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Menopause weight gain: Stop the middle age spread
Most women gain weight as they age, but excess pounds aren't inevitable. To minimize menopause weight gain, step up your activity level and enjoy a healthy diet.By Mayo Clinic staff
As you get older, you may notice that maintaining your usual weight becomes more difficult. In fact, the most profound weight gain in a woman's life tends to happen during the years leading up to menopause (perimenopause). Weight gain after menopause isn't inevitable, however. You can reverse course by paying attention to healthy-eating habits and leading an active lifestyle.
What causes menopause weight gain?
The hormonal changes of menopause may make you more likely to gain weight around your abdomen, rather than your hips and thighs. Hormonal changes alone don't necessarily trigger weight gain after menopause, however. Instead, the weight gain is usually related to a variety of lifestyle and genetic factors.
For example, menopausal women tend to exercise less than other women, which can lead to weight gain. In addition, muscle mass naturally diminishes with age. If you don't do anything to replace the lean muscle you lose, your body composition will shift to more fat and less muscle — which slows down the rate at which you burn calories. If you continue to eat as you always have, you're likely to gain weight.
For many women, genetic factors play a role in weight gain after menopause. If your parents or other close relatives carry extra weight around the abdomen, you're likely to do the same. Sometimes, factors such as children leaving — or returning — home, divorce, the death of a spouse or other life changes may contribute to weight gain after menopause. For others, a sense of contentment or simply letting go leads to weight gain.Next page
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