Overweight at menopause: end the stigma

Overweight at menopause: end the stigma
Weight gain negatively affects everyone’s life
Photo Pexels/ Anna Tarazevitch

Weight gain negatively affects everyone’s life. It has physical consequences, such as limitations in activities of daily living, fatigue, a greater propensity for joint damage and poorer quality of sleep. Metabolically, it increases the risk of potentially serious diseases such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes mellitus, the risk of cardiovascular events (acute myocardial infarction, stroke) and cancer. And, from a psychic point of view, it leads to a decrease in self-esteem, compromising the couple’s sex life, social interactions, among other problems.

At menopause, this weight gain reflects, on the one hand, the aging process, which typically promotes an increase in adipose tissue (fat mass) and a decrease in lean mass, but also results from changes in the distribution of body fat, with a greater accumulation of abdominal fat, which is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes mellitus.

These changes are based on many factors, genetic heritage, lifestyle habits (diet, smoking or physical activity), hormonal imbalances (marked decrease in estrogen, relative hyperandroginism, resistance to insulin) and changes in appetite regulation.

The question that many women ask themselves is then: what to do to avoid this weight gain?

Given the risk of weight gain and the simultaneous difficulty in losing it, women should adopt strategies that mitigate this risk. An adequate, balanced and individualized nutritional plan, ideally prepared in consultation with Nutrition, is one of the most important preventive measures in the prevention and treatment of the most varied diseases, overweight and obesity being no exception. The practice of regular physical activity is essential for the maintenance of a healthy weight and body composition and for the prevention of many medical and psychological pathologies.

And when non-pharmacological measures prove insufficient to maintain body mass index (BMI) below 30 kg/m2 or below 27 kg/m2 in patients with relevant comorbidities (hypertension, diabetes mellitus, hypercholesterolemia , for example), the introduction of drugs should be considered. . These drugs, although safe and effective, require evaluation and differentiated medical follow-up, ideally in endocrinology consultation.

There is also the alternative of metabolic surgery, which is indicated for patients with a higher BMI, in particular when lifestyle, dietary and pharmacological measures have proved unsuccessful.

It is however important to mention that obesity is a disease of which the population has a very limited knowledge, quickly leading to unscientific beliefs which lead to stigmatization and discrimination. It is wrongly considered as a life option, completely reversible, which depends solely and exclusively on the will of the person. It is in fact a chronic disease, with genetic, biological and behavioral causes, the treatment of which goes far beyond “eating less and moving more”. A better knowledge and sensitization of the population to this problem, in particular women in menopause, would contribute in a significant way to a reduction of its incidence, its seriousness and its impact on their life.

The texts in this section reflect the personal opinion of the authors. They do not represent ACTIVA or reflect its editorial positioning.

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