The older women's bulging waistline... [Dieting after sixty]

Why, why, why, for many of us as we age does all the weight seem to settle around the middle of our bodies.

When most of us were young if we were a bit weighty it seemed to be around our hips and thighs. Then we hit menopause and all defies gravity and our excess weight seems to move upward and settle onto our stomachs, under our boobs, around our waists and our upper arms.




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Apparently why our weight shifts from our hips and thighs and we start to gain weight in our middles it due to the loss of oestrogen during menopause. Oestrogen favours fat deposition in the lower body and when we start to lose this hormone fat is more likely to be deposited in the midsection (much like men). The spare tyre area around the older woman has been called the ‘menopot’. The researchers say that about 90% of women experience some amount of weight gain during and after menopause.

Maybe many of us should be thankful if by the time we have reached our sixties we have no major chronic diseases and still have the ability to be mobile. But if you still desire to look ok, socialise and travel several times a year without having to live in what I call camouflage clothes (tents) then like me we have to stay with the battle of these bulges.

I recently had a writing assignment on a four-day food and wine cruise, and for many of the older women on board, tents were the order of the day. In my opinion there is nothing flattering about floating around with meters of fabric draped around a bulging body. I think overweight women are much better off in something semi fitted to cover up the bulges.

Even though many of us are semi-retired or retired some of us still have physical and psychological stress in our lives which can cause us resort to eating high-sugar and high-fat, comfort convenience foods. Any weight gain from stress eating at this stage of our lives is likely to settle around our middles. As well as female hormonal changes and stress other issues that can contribute to fat around the middle of the body is a slower metabolism and a sluggish digestive system. These changes can also trigger other problems such as depression, fatigue and poor sleep.

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A bulging waistline is not just an aesthetic concern it can also be a health risk too. Women with thick waists are at higher risk of many health problems such as: heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and certain cancers.

If you have excess fat around the middle the way you can test if you are vulnerable to the many health risks is to measure your waist and your hips. Then divide your waist by your hip measurement to obtain your waist-hip ratio.

For example: 85cm waist divided by 94cm hip = 0.9
If your calculation is greater than 0.8 you should take action.
For males the danger zone is above 0.9

If your serious about changing your body shape it comes down to eating healthier and cutting out all those things in your diet that you know may have been responsible for your weight gain over the years. For those that drink cutting out alcohol completely if you can would be very beneficial.

As we all know any weight loss requires you burn more kilojoules than you take in and after menopause it is unlikely that a woman can lose weight without some regular daily exercise. Even if you only start with a five-minute walk each day and then over time increase it to twenty to thirty minutes. It can mean you may not have to restrict your food intake so much.

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Also check out your BMI if you don’t know it.

It can be calculated at:

In my last column I suggested readers who wanted to could list their details each week and we could give them some support to reach their goals.

Those who are listed so far are:
April 2014, Jane, BMI 30, 12kilos to lose
April 2014, Jennifer, BMI 30+, 35kilos to lose
April 2014, Glen, BMI 27, 12kilos to lose
April 2014, Beverley, BMI 30+, 17kilos to lose

So lots of positive vibes to: Jane, Jennifer, Glen and Beverley. Stay with it and take one day at a time. xxx CaroleL

If you would like me to cover any particular topic in this column please email me at: [email protected] 

What is your biggest weight challenge? Tell us in the comments below…