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The Menopause Belly

Though all women are different from their body composition to their metabolic rate, gaining weight around the midsection during menopause is likely unless lifestyle changes are made. The word “change” can be quite intimidating, but with this blog we hope to educate about the changes to your body that occur during menopause and with age and most importantly, what can be done to avoid weight gain and the “menopause belly”.


As the pounds get added, it’s easy for many to accept this change because they feel as though it’s just a natural part of life. 

It’s true that weight gain with age and around menopause is much more likely; however what many don’t know is that extra belly fat alone increases the risk of heart disease, body-wise inflammatory conditions, diabetes, and cancer. Waistlines over 32 inches and the Apple body shape put you at the greatest risk for these serious health problems.

Women come in many shapes and sizes, however the Apple body shape is at the greatest risk for heart disease, diabetes and overall mortality due to fat concentrated around the midline.

Why the extra pounds?

Dropping Estrogen

When your body is transitioning to menopause, hormone levels change; most notable is the drop in  Estrogen levels. Studies have shown that there is a modest increase in total fat with menopause. What’s more interesting is that an increase in belly fat is related to menopause regardless of age. Animal studies that investigated the effect of estrogen on weight showed that Estrogen actually protects against obesity and weight gain. Thus, it is possible that with estrogen therapy, weight gain is less likely (though still possible). 

Decreased physical activity:

As people age, they often become less physically active and sometimes for reasons out of their control. Sedentary jobs, injuries, decreased energy, lack of motivation, and many other changes can be attributed to a decrease in exercise. Less physical activity is less energy spent and less energy spent adds up to more energy stored as fat in your body.

Decreased Metabolic Rate

Another factor that contributes to weight gain at menopause are changes in metabolism. As you age, several factors increase your risk of gaining weight:

  1. Decreased physical activity
  2. Decreased muscle mass
  3. Decreased ability to use up energy
Renee Cotter, MD

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