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Menopause Weight Gain: Causes, Risks And Prevention

| Reviewed By Sneha Krishnan

When a woman attains menopause there are several health risks that come in, for instance, low oestrogen, osteoporosis, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and weight gain. In this article, we will talk about what causes weight gain during menopause.

During menopause, managing weight becomes difficult and so most women gain weight when they enter menopause. It is estimated that women gain 1-2 kgs during the menopause transition, however, some women add on some extra kilos [1].

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What Causes Weight Gain During Menopause?

  • Hormonal changes - During menopause, there is a sharp decline in oestrogen levels. Estradiol is a form of oestrogen that helps regulate metabolism and body weight decreases during menopause. A decrease in estradiol leads to weight gain [2]. Dr Sneha adds, "Hormonal changes influence the distribution of weight also- the weight is more central (near the abdomen) than peripheral (hips and thighs for women)."
  • Lack of exercise - Most women are inactive and less likely to exercise as they reach menopause. This can be another reason for weight gain [3].
  • Poor sleep - Poor sleep quality has been linked to weight gain during menopause. When the ovaries no longer produce enough amounts of oestrogen and progesterone, it can lead to symptoms like hot flashes and sweating. This makes it difficult to sleep at night [4].
  • Eating unhealthy foods - Following a healthy, well-balanced diet is essential during menopause. But, if you gorge on processed and spicy foods, this may lead to weight gain [5].
  • Genetics - Another cause of menopausal weight gain is genetic factors.

Another contributing factor for weight gain during menopause is a rise in appetite. "External factors like medication could cause weight gain," adds Dr Sneha. A study showed that ghrelin, the hunger hormone were found to be higher among perimenopausal women than postmenopausal and premenopausal women [6].


Health Risks Of Weight Gain During Menopause

Excess weight around the abdomen leads to many health risks which include the following:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Breathing problems

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Ways To Prevent Weight Gain During Menopause

  • Exercise - Aerobic exercise and strength training can help in shedding off those extra kilos and aid in managing weight [7].
  • Cut down on fast foods - Lower your calorie intake by cutting down on processed and fried foods. This will prevent weight gain during menopause.
  • Limit alcohol - Drinking excess alcohol can increase weight gain.
  • Eat healthy foods - Eat foods which are rich in fibre, protein and other essential vitamins and minerals to lower the risk of weight gain.
  • Relax - Get adequate sleep as this will help keep your hormones and hunger under control. Dr Sneha adds, "Hormone levels will drop during menopause, weight reducing measures should focus on the other aspects."

To Conclude...

  • Incorporating these lifestyle habits will help you maintain weight when you reach menopause. Although it can be difficult, start slowly and you will see a healthier you.
Sneha KrishnanGeneral Medicine
Sneha Krishnan
Read more about: menopause weight gain wellness