Why is it so easy for women over 40 to gain weight?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

After turning 40, most women need to eat much less and move more to maintain the weight they had when younger. With age, your metabolism slows, your estrogen level drops, and your muscle mass diminishes.

Weight gain also can signal hypothyroidism: an underactive thyroid. Other symptoms of hypothyroidism include dry skin, fatigue, and an inability to tolerate cold. In normal thyroid function, the hypothalamus and pituitary gland activate the thyroid to release hormones. With hypothyroidism, the brain loses feedback from the thyroid and keeps trying to activate it, which results in the thyroid getting larger, creating a condition known as goiter.

If the muscles on the sides of your neck feel larger than usual, you might have a thyroid issue. Your doctor can perform a simple blood test to check for thyroid disease.

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Dr. Mike Dow, PsyD
Addiction Medicine Specialist

Our metabolic rates slow down as we age, but all you have to do starting at around 50 is cut 200 calories from your diet from what you used to eat in your 30s or 40s. Think about it—that's half a bagel! Also, many women do gain weight during menopause, but they also tend to get less active.

If you're a woman in her 50's or approaching menopause, you don't have to gain weight! 1) Staying active + 2) cutting 200 calories = no weight gain.

On average women between 40 and 50 years of age gain 10-15 pounds. This is multifactorial. There are hormonal changes, decreased activity levels, eating for comfort, and the increased popularity of "low-fat foods" which can still be calorically dense. This weight gain is not inevitable, however. Regular aerobic exercise and healthy dietary choices can make a big difference.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.