Managing Obesity after Menopause The Role of Physical Activity

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Gal Dubnov, Elliot M. Berry

Department of Human Nutrition and Metabolism, Braun School of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, The Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School, Jerusalem, Israel

Obesity is an epidemic on a global scale [1], posing a major threat to human health and well-being as well as consuming a large part of health care costs. The health hazards associated with being overweight are numerous; including increased all-cause and cardiovascular mortality, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, cancer and more. Post-menopausal women, deprived of the protective effects of endogenous estrogen together with negative environmental factors, have an increased tendency for gaining weight and its associated metabolic syndrome [2]. A major cause for the weight gain is lack of sufficient physical activity (PA). Additionally, PA is paramount in managing obesity and combating weight gain, including in the postmenopausal years [3-5].

Obesity: Prevalence, Causes and Consequences

Almost one fifth of US adults are obese, having a body mass index (BMI) of over 30, and over 19 million American adult women are obese [6]. Almost one half of the women in the western world are overweight, having a BMI of 25 or more [6, 7].

The causes of obesity are genetic and environmental. Yet the high and growing prevalence of obesity is mainly due to environmental effects influencing a genetic susceptibility [8]. In some ways the development of obesity may be considered as a 'normal' response to an 'abnormal' environment. Food and energy intake are higher than actually needed, while the mechanized surroundings produce a low level of PA. This results in a natural net effect of weight gain

Table 1. The risk for some common disease conditions that are influenced by weight gain, weight loss, and physical activity or physical fitness


Obesity Intentional Physical activity/

weight loss physical fitness


Cardiovascular CAD events Metabolic syndrome Stroke

Gallbladder disease Cancer fl fl fl fl fl fl fl

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