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Menopause shifts fat to the waistline, but doesn't cause weight gain, study finds

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Menopause shifts fat to the waistline, but doesn't cause weight gain, study finds Empty Menopause shifts fat to the waistline, but doesn't cause weight gain, study finds

Post by AlleyRose on Sun May 19, 2019 10:34 pm

Menopause shifts fat to the waistline, but doesn't cause weight gain, study finds 11111742-3x2-thumbnail
It's a common refrain: once you hit menopause, prepare to stack on the kilos.

Key points:


  • Fat is redistributed from the legs to the waistline after menopause, study finds
  • Wider waists are associated with higher risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke and dementia
  • Teaching women to accurately measure their waists is more useful than focusing on BMI, expert says


But menopause might be getting a bad rap, as a new study suggests "the change" doesn't cause weight gain, but instead a redistribution of fat to the waistline from other parts of the body.
The research, published recently in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, reviewed studies that included more than 1 million pre- and post-menopausal women and found while women's waist circumference increased after menopause, the amount of fat carried in their legs actually decreased.
It's important to understand how women's bodies change as they age because women have higher rates of some diseases than men, said Ananthan Ambikairajah, a PhD candidate at the Australian National University, who led the study.

"The implications are important, because central fat has been linked with dementia risk, and central fat is linked with cardiovascular disease risk."


That's not to say weight gain doesn't also happen around the same time as menopause — but that is attributable to ageing, Mr Ambikairajah said.

Perimenopause: The change before 'the change'




Menopause shifts fat to the waistline, but doesn't cause weight gain, study finds Woman-stares-out-a-window-data




The average age of menopause is 51, but for many women, symptoms of perimenopause can creep up much earlier.

"There's the decrease in metabolism that happens as people age. People often say, 'I can't eat like I used to when I was younger, the excess weight just doesn't seem to vanish when I eat well'. That's related to an ageing metabolism."

Watch your waist

The study highlights the need for women to monitor waist circumference, and not just weight, said Debra Anderson, a women's health expert from Griffith University.
She encouraged women to learn to accurately take their waist circumference and be on the lookout for increases in that measurement.
"Learning how to do that is probably a much better thing to teach women to [measure] mid-life than their body mass index."

How to measure waist circumference


  • Use a tape measure that is not old or stretched
  • Take off bulky clothing, loosen your belt and empty your pockets
  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart
  • Wrap the tape around your belly, directly against your skin if you can, and breathe out normally
  • The tape measure should be placed about halfway between the bottom of your lowest rib and the top of your hip bones, roughly in line with your belly button. It should be loose enough for you to be able to slip a finger inside the tape
  • Record your waist measurement in centimetres
  • A waist circumference of 80 centimetres or more indicates an increased risk of chronic disease, and 88cm or more indicates a greatly increased risk in women (unless you are pregnant or are from some non-European backgrounds, which have different body shapes).

[size]
Source: Australian Department of Health[/size]
Making lifestyle changes well before menopause hit was the best way to stave off this waist-circumference increase, as well as the increase in health risk that went along with it, Professor Anderson said.
"Think about midlife as a great opportunity to set up some really strong health behaviours which will decrease the risk of this central fat occurring," she said.
Increasing exercise, eating a healthy diet, and reducing stress and anxiety were all tactics women could use to ensure they transitioned through menopause and into old age in the best shape possible, Professor Anderson said.
Mr Ambikairajah pointed out people of all ages and sexes should keep an eye on their body fat to reduce their disease risk.
"Total fat mass for men and women should be monitored across the lifespan, but the important thing about this paper is after menopause, more attention needs to be paid to central fat accumulation, because that's the bad stuff," he said.
https://www.abc.net.au/news/health/2019-05-15/menopause-weight-gain-and-fat-around-waist/11102300?section=health
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