The challenges and recommendations regarding weight loss for women were recently outlined in the medical journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings. The average weight gain for women in their 50s and 60s is 1.5 pounds per year, much of which involves the midsection. Women who gain weight in their middles are at greater risk is cardiovascular disease, the number-one cause of death for postmenopausal women. Midsection weight gain also increases the risk of high blood pressure and abnormal lipid and glucose levels.

The Challenges

“This population of women faces multiple challenges for maintaining a healthy weight,” says Ekta Kapoor, M.B.B.S., a Mayo Clinic endocrinologist and the study’s lead author. “Mood changes, sleep disturbances, hot flashes and the many other changes of menopause can disrupt what may have previously been a healthy lifestyle.”

The Suggestions

Researchers recommend middle-aged women make healthy diet and exercise changes to combat these health risks, and consider hormone therapy to mitigate menopausal symptoms. The latter is believed to help women make healthy lifestyle choices because they are not as focused on the symptoms of menopause. Postmenopausal women are among those most subject to high obesity rates in the United States.

“In addition to the usual adverse consequences of obesity, postmenopausal women face some unique challenges posed by obesity, including worse hot flashes, sexual dysfunction and an increased cancer risk,” says Dr. Kapoor. “Targeting the lifestyle habits during midlife and beyond will help prevent further health consequences down the road. It’s never too late to start making healthy lifestyle choices.”

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