Menopause and weight gain in the midsection

Question of the Month:
I expected to gain weight during menopause but I didn’t think that most of it would be in my midsection.  This is not where I usually put on weight. Is there a reason for this?

Answer:
 As you have experienced, it is common for women to put on extra pounds around their hips and buttocks, while men tend to see the excess accumulate around their abdomen. Any deviations from this pattern would certainly arouse a significant concern. However, there is a logical explanation for your weight gain around your midsection.

As we age our bodies are prone to gaining excess weight. This is primarily due to lower levels of exercise, increased stress, and poor dietary habits.  However, in this case, menopause is the culprit for the excess abdominal weight.  Hormone balances significantly affect where excess body fat accumulates.  Estrogen, the primary female hormone, naturally causes a woman to accumulate excess body fat in the hips and buttocks.  Conversely, testosterone, the primary male hormone, has the effect of adding excess fat to a man’s abdomen. As a woman approaches menopausal years, her estrogen level decreases.  The ratio of estrogen to testosterone shifts dramatically, and a woman will begin to accumulate excess body fat where a man tends to do so – the abdomen.

Unfortunately, where you are accumulating excess body fat is a natural process and we are limited as to how we can affect it.  However, the underlying cause for the weight gain can be addressed.  Being diligent about your diet and participating in a regular exercise program will help you avoid excess weight gain.  It is probably not what you want to hear but, for now, try to accept the age-related changes that each of us experience as we grow old.
 
About the author:  Anthony G. Barnes is the club owner at Anytime Fitness in Chester and holds a degree in Sports Medicine and Exercise Science. To submit a question for future articles, please contact the author at anthony.barnes@anytimefitness.com

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