Women and Obesity - Cause and Effects of Morbid Obesity in Women

The problem of women and obesity is growing. What are the health risks and treatments for extreme menopausal weight gain?


Women are getting fatter. There's no turning our backs on this statement, because it's the blunt truth. Not only that, it's women of 50-64, the menopausal and post-menopausal years, who are most at risk of becoming obese.

In the USA more than one-third of women are obese, while in the UK it's one-quarter. And those statistics are creeping up all the time. In the UK, statisticians fear that by 2050, half the adult women in the UK will be overweight or obese.

What is morbid obesity?

Morbid obesity in women is on the increase
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What exactly is obesity? It's measured by your Body Mass Index or BMI, where a figure over 30 means you're obese, over 40 and you're dangerously or morbidly obese. Morbid obesity occurs when your weight is twice or more what your normal body weight should be for your height.

The more your waist measures above 32 inches (81 cm), the more your health is at risk. The ratio between your waist and hip measurement is another critical factor.

Why do women become overweight in the first place? There are many causes of obesity, which can develop gradually over many years of unhealthy lifestyle.

The main cause is an unhealthy diet. Too much processed and junk food, which is high in fats and sugars but doesn't satisfy the appetite for long, encourages you to eat more and more, and to graze constantly. Serving food serving sizes that are too big for your needs can become a habit. And if you regularly drink too much alcohol, that too can make you put on weight.

Lack of exercise is the other big problem, as our lives become more and more sedentary. If you don't burn off all the excess calories you're consuming, the inevitable result will be an apple-shaped body. To stay fit and healthy, you need 30 minutes of exercise, on five days of the week.

Other causes of obesity include your genes - overweight tends to run in families. Some diseases can cause weight gain, such as an under-active thyroid gland, Cushing's Syndrome (a rare hormonal condition), and polycystic ovary syndrome.

Weight gain is a side effect of some medicines. Certain antidepressants are associated with weight gain and drugs containing steroids can also lead to you putting on pounds.

Women and Obesity: obesity health risks

Being overweight is a serious risk to your health, and the more excess pounds you carry, the higher the risks.

As more research is done, the level of risk becomes clearer. A study by Cancer Research UK found that being overweight or obese was the underlying cause of 6000 women a year developing a cancer which they would not have had if their weight was normal.

Certain types of cancer are linked to excess weight, especially breast cancer, cancer of the womb and others including kidney cancer, cancer of the oesophagus and leukaemia.

Other health risks that increase as weight goes up include:

Women and Obesity: obesity treatments

What can be done, if your weight keeps going up, and up...?

Diet Eating a healthy menopause diet is crucial. Cut out junk food, include plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, high grain foods, drink water rather than soda, have lean protein and fish.

Tackle emotional eating Our emotions can play a big role in why we eat as we do. If you know you turn to food when you feel like stress eating, you're sad or bored, or you've noticed the warning signs of depression, you need to acknowledge that you are using emotional eating and take steps to help yourself. Find out more about how to stop emotional eating.

Mindless eating Absently snacking, eating all evening in front of the TV, hardly noticing what goes into your mouth - these are signs of mindless eating and a dangerous way of overloading yourself with calories which pile on as fat.

Get more exercise You know it, but now's the time to do it. A mix of different types of aerobic exercise and strength training exercises can help you shed weight and move healthily through mid-life.

Check your medications Certain medications are known to cause weight gain.

Obesity surgery If you've tried without success to lose weight using diet and exercise, your physician may suggest that you consider one of the types of bariatric surgery. Not to be undertaken lightly, procedures like gastric lap band and gastric bypass although not without risks, can be very effective at helping obese women to shed a lot of weight. Stomach liposuction is another surgical procedure to consider.

The huge rise in numbers concerning women and obesity is a big health concern, costing nations millions of £s or $s in treating related illnesses, and causing distress to individuals and their families. If you know you're overweight, consult your physician for the best approach for you to beat that menopausal weight gain and give yourself a healthy longterm future.

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