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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Does menopause cause weight gain?

  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • 1

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    Jean Hailes for Women’s Health is a leader in women’s health, supported by funding from the Australian Government. We provide trusted and easy-to-understand information to … View Profile

    Women tend to gain weight, particularly around the abdomen (stomach), in their middle years. Hormonal factors around menopause can put someone at more risk of weight gain if they aren’t careful with their health and lifestyle. On their own, though, hormones are not the cause.

  • Nicole Senior

    Dietitian, Nutritionist

    I'm an Accredited Practising Dietitian and Nutritionist, consultant, author, speaker and food and health enthusiast. I love talking and writing about food and health.(please note, … View Profile

    The Womens Longitudinal Health study being conducted by Newcastle University is following a large group of women over time to explore their diet, lifestyle and health status as they age. Preliminary results show around half the women gained weight over the menopause, which raises the question how did the other half keep weight gain at bay? What the researchers found was they used the usual weight management strategies of monioring their weight, being physically active and eating a healthy diet according to their energy needs.There's a lot you can do to minimise weight gain over the menopause and luckily they're all the things that promote good health overall.

  • 2

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    Arlene is a registered practising dietitian, with a private practice in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney, and has built a strong business over the last … View Profile

    When menopause strikes your metabolsm does slow down. You also can lose muscle mass if you do not exercise regularly. Yo should partake in both aerobic and resistance exercise. You have to watch your portions and also the foods you select. Try not to consume too much alcohol.

  • 1

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    Melanie McGrice is an Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian, one of the few dietitians in Australia to achieve that status. Her success has made her an … View Profile

    Although menopause itself doesn't cause weight gain, it's essential that you modify your diet and lifestyle to reflect the hormonal changes that occur during menopause, otherwise weight gain can result.  

    For example: during menopause, your ovaries stop producing estrogen and progesterone (amongst many other hormonal fluctuations).  A decrease in progesterone has been shown to lead to an increase in fluid retention, so minimise fluid retention by limiting salt intake.  Avoid adding extra salt to meals or your cooking, and limit salty foods such as salted nuts or potato chips.

    Although your ovaries stop producing estrogen during menopause, your fat cells will continue to make it!  As a result, it is thought that the body works harder to convert excess kilojoules into fat so that your body can continue producing estrogen.  So, if you want to avoid weight gain, make sure that you are consuming the correct number of kilojoules that your body requires (your dietitian can calculate this for you).  The best way to reduce your kilojoule intake is to limit treat foods which are high in kilojoules and low in nutrition, such as chocolate, lollies, pastries and alcohol.

    Obviously, this is just a few examples, but your local dietitian can go through it all in detail with you.  Hope this helps!

    Melanie
    www.health-kick.com.au

  • 1

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    Dr Michael Elstein

    GP (General Practitioner)

    I am an anti-ageing/wellness expert and author of ‘Eternal Health,’ and ‘You have the power.’ I have appeared on radio and television and currently have … View Profile

    Weight gain can occur around the menopausal transition and beyond and can be extremely difficult to reverse. There is a common misconception that oestrogen makes women put on weight but science indicates that the opposite is the case.  Oestrogen actually stimulates the satiety centre in the brain and improves insulin sensitivity making fat burning easier.  Animals who lack ovaries lose weight when given oestrogen.  Food intake is lowest just before ovulation when oestrogen peaks.  Therefore the decline in oestrogen production during menopause might contribute to some of the metabolic difficulties experienced by women. 
      On the other hand research indicates that both progesterone and testosterone have the capacity to stimulate appetite and promote weight gain.  Food consumption can increase substantially during the premenstrual period, when progesterone production is heightened.
      Excess cortisol production associated with stress and insomnia can lead to weight gain, which in turn can impair the function of insulin, leading to increased production of testosterone by the ovaries intensifying weight gain. 
      Assessing these hormonal perturbations and dealing with them appropriately might help to implement a weight loss strategy.  

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