On the "down" side, some menopausal women gain weight—some having weight problems for the first time in their life! Why? It's partly age. Metabolic rate, or the speed at which the body uses energy, often slows as hormone levels change. There's often another reason. In midlife, many women shift to more sedentary living, using less food energy. That promotes weight problems if eating habits remain unchanged. As an aside, research doesn't support the perception that hormone therapy causes weight gain.
Besides going up in dress size, what are the risks? Being overweight increases the chances for many health problems that start to appear after menopause. Changing hormone levels affect body fat distribution as more fat gets stored around the abdomen. Central body fat appears to be riskier for heart disease, higher cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and insulin resistance than lower body fat.
You don't need be resigned to weight gain after menopause! To maintain your weight or to drop a few pounds if you need to, adjust your food choices. Follow MyPyramid guidelines and choose mostly lean and lower-fat foods, also with fewer added sugars. Balance the calories you take in with those you burn. Move more, too—that includes strength training to maintain muscle and to keep your bones healthy! See chapter 2, "Your Healthy Weight"'
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