Obesity has always been a big cause of alarm for health care providers. A lot of adverse effects of being overweight and obese are well-established. Obesity, at any given age, is caused by a lot of different factors. However, for women, obesity appears to start settling in after menopause. What happens?
What is menopause?
Menopause is when a woman’s body naturally stops having menstrual or reproductive cycles. This is manifested by a permanent absence of monthly periods or menstruation. This signals the end of the fertile phase of a woman’s life. Menopause is triggered when the ovaries start faltering or shutting down. When the ovaries have shut down, it can no longer produce reproductive hormones necessary to a woman’s menstrual cycle. It will then cause a series of changes in the woman’s body and psyche.
Menopause and Obesity
At menopause, women lose a vital hormone in the body – estrogen. The sudden change in hormonal levels in the body causes a multitude of changes in the way the body functions. Recent studies show that the sudden drop of the body’s estrogen level can cause a metabolic condition characterized by the following:
· Abdominal/visceral obesity. Postmenopausal women have low fat burning activity in the abdominal adipose tissue as well as in the femoral adipose tissue, therefore causing fat deposition on those regions.
· Dyslipidemia, or disruption in the amount of lipids in the blood.
This obesity may lead to other more serious concerns like:
· Diabetes. The change in the hormone level may cause your blood to have insulin-resistance.
· Cardiovascular diseases. Because of the body’s lowered capacity to process fat, fat deposits may clog the arteries.
· Sleep apnea (temporary cessation of breathing during sleep)
· Cancer. (cancer of the gallbladder, ovaries and pancreas)
· Osteoarthritis. This is secondary to the body having difficulty regulating lipid maintenance.
· Mental health problems. (mood and anxiety disorders)
The simplest and cheapest form of treatment for postmenopausal obesity is to eat right and exercise regularly. Proper nutrition is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. The dietary regimen is generally similar for the general population, weight loss, diabetics, cancer patients and prevention, and in many other health conditions. The nutritional plan for weight loss aims for a decreased energy intake, while providing a balance of all your daily nutritional requirement needs. Hence, it should be rich in grains, fruits and vegetables, which bring additional benefits such as decreased incidence of cardiovascular disease or cancer. Physical activity is a cornerstone of weight loss and weight maintenance for all ages, including after menopause. Physical activity in itself can lessen most of the complications of obesity. An additional and important role of physical activity is improving mood, which is also important in promoting adherence to your new lifestyle. The amount required for achieving most of these associated health benefits is more than 30 min of moderate intensity physical activity on most, preferably all, days of the week.
Recent studies suggest that being active and fit is more important than losing weight; hence, a major recommendation is to exercise regularly while maintaining a healthy balanced diet. Unfortunately, there are no medications that may provide long-term treatment, and all diets work irrespective of their composition as long as people comply to them. There is no substitute for a sensible lifestyle.
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