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Women fight back against midlife weight gain

If hot flashes and night sweats weren't enough, many women who reach their menopause years have an additional adversary to contend with: They gain weight around the waist and learn it's a struggle to do anything about.

As women age and reach menopause, it's easier to gain weight. Hormonal changes such as decreased estrogen may increase the likelihood of gaining weight around the abdomen versus other areas of the body, according to Dr. Debra Crawford of Southwestern Obstetrics & Gynecology.

"Other things such as aging, lifestyle and genetic factors also contribute to this," Crawford said. "Also, lack of exercise, unhealthy diet, stress and lack of sleep may contribute to weight gain. Loss of muscle mass causes a decrease in metabolism rate."

When women are in their 50s, they require about 200 fewer calories per day that when they were in their 30s and 40s, according to Crawford. Hence the need to increase activity and decrease calorie intake to control the middle aged spread.

"The decrease in estrogen that occurs in menopause may contribute to weight gain," Crawford said. "If you have menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, moodiness, or if you have low bone mass, hormone replacement may be an option for you. There are risks and benefits to HRT (hormone replacement therapy). You should discuss with your doctor if HRT is an option for you."

The Lawton Constitution

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