Postmenopausal women naturally consume much less energy than when they were younger, the strategies and behaviors they followed earlier in life are simply not sustainable or effective in the long-term any more, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh Department of Health and Physical Activity, reported in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The authors added that several factors work against postmenopausal women when they try to lose weight over the long term.
Several studies have looked at postmenopausal body weight control and diets. A team of researchers from the University of Illinois said that postmenopausal dieting women should eat plenty of protein so that they do not lose too much muscle. Another study warned thathigh-protein diets may encourage bone density loss in postmenopausal women.
Even for younger females and men of all ages, dropping the pounds initially during a diet is usually achievable, but keeping the weight off over the long term is challenging. For postmenopausal women, the authors say, it is much harder.
Postmenopausal women are at a higher risk of developing certain diseases and conditions – those who are overweight have an even higher risk. Overweight postmenopausal women who manage to lose weight, have much better health outcomes. A study carried out by researchers from the Prevention Center at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington, found that those who lost at least 5% of their bodyweight had noticeable reductions in markers of inflammation.
The researchers found that behaviors which are linked to weight loss initially during a diet and exercise drive, just simply do not work after a while for post-menopausal females. They believe that interventions which target these behaviors could help older women achieve positive long-term outcomes, especially obese women.
Lead researcher Bethany Barone Gibbs, PhD, explained that several factors make weight loss much harder for post-menopausal women:
“Not only does motivation decrease after you start losing weight, there are physiological changes, including a decreased resting metabolic rate. Appetite-related hormones increase. Researchers studying the brain are now finding that you have enhanced rewards and increased motivation to eat when you’ve lost weight.”
If you add them all up, greater appetite, a lower resting metabolic rate, etc., it is very difficult for post-menopausal women to lose weight and to keep it off.
Traditionally, treatments, particularly behavioral ones for obesity, have over-concentrated on keeping the calories down – an approach which may sound good in theory, but has very disappointing long-term results. Dr. Gibbs and team set out to find out what impact certain alterations in eating behaviors and selected foods might have on weight loss after six and 48 months. They focused just on post-menopausal women who were overweight.