Although there are a variety of reasons why a person may be overweight, a decline in physical activity and unhealthy dietary habits have contributed a great deal in turning obesity into an epidemic. According to recent statistics, more than 150 million US citizens are suffering from the issue of weight gain.
If we particularly talk about the female population, it has been found that more than 60% of the adult women in the country are suffering from obesity. Despite the increasing public awareness of obesity, a large number of women are still dealing with this health issue.
40 and Obesity
40 is generally considered an important milestone in one’s life. Some people find a new meaning of life at this point of age. On the other hand, a midlife crisis is also typically experienced after 40. And interestingly, it has also been found that women are more likely to gain weight after 40 years. Medical scientists and nutritionists have deduced multiple reasons behind obesity in the female population, particularly after 40. Let’s have a look.
Before we move on to discuss those reasons in detail, it is imperative to clarify that the intent of sharing this information is just to spread awareness regarding the unhealthy repercussions of obesity. We don’t approve of the socially construct taboo of obesity particularly for women by any means.
Stating the obvious, the most prevalent reason for weight gain after 40 is the hormonal imbalance within the female body. The time between ages 40 and 48, also known as pre-menopause phase, is highlighted by the reduced production of estrogen from ovaries. With reduced estrogen levels, the body starts to retain more fat than before, thereby leading to weight gain.
On the other hand, reduced levels of progesterone also contribute to gaining weight. Reduced progesterone levels don’t have any effect on the fat retention characteristics of the body. However, its reduced production can set off bloating, which actually adds up to the net weight of the affected person.
Slower Metabolic Rate
Irrespective of gender, age most definitely plays a key part in obesity. However, women bear the greater brunt of aging because of the natural phenomenon of menopause. Due to menopause, the metabolism of females turning 40 becomes slower than the men of the same age. A slower metabolic rate slows the rate at which the body burns calories. As a result, all the excessive and leftover calories show up in the form of weight gain.
Increased Stress Levels
Women aged 40 and above also become more vulnerable to higher levels of stress. Balancing professional and personal life, taking care of children while worrying about finances and jobs at the same time— all of it can take a great toll on their mental health.
The coping mechanism of the body to deal with stress is to release the cortisol hormone. The constant proliferation of this hormone within the body affects its natural capability to lose weight. So, chronic stress, among many another issues can also result in excessive weight gain.
Loss of Muscle Mass
Many people might not be aware of this but a body with more muscle mass actually has a better metabolic rate. Even though the reduction of muscle mass is one of the unwanted consequences of the natural process of aging, women are likely to be more severely affected by this phenomenon because of menopause.
It has been observed that after turning 40, women start to lose their muscle mass more rapidly as compared to men. As a result, the basal metabolic rate of the body significantly drops. Slowed metabolism, reduced muscle mass with more fat retention can only mean one thing – increased weight.
Apart from these internal and natural reasons behind the obesity after 40, some external factors can also contribute to weight gain among women. Let’s take a brief look at them.
Lack of Physical Activity
As mentioned earlier, our modern lifestyle has already cut down our physical activity to a great extent. Many women become negligent of this aspect after crossing 40. There is so much going on in life during this phase of age that women can’t focus on their bodies when it comes to maintaining an active physical lifestyle. The importance of physical activity increases when age starts to take its toll on the body.
So, women should proactively manage a better routine of physical activities to counterbalance the detrimental side effects that happen as they grow old.
Unhealthy Dietary Habit
This is another harmful factor that develops as one ages. Due to their hectic and multifaceted professional and personal life, some women do not pay attention to what they eat. Untimely eating, not taking into account the total calorie count of the daily diet and feasting on bad carbs and unhealthy fats—all these things are a recipe for obesity particularly if a woman has crossed 40. Women who are near menopause must take extra care of what they eat. Eating carelessly and unhealthy will not help the already ailing body and mind. Of course, there are loads of diet plans that you can follow and after 40 is highly recommended.
Apart from taking care of one’s diet and physical activity, meditation can also help to deal with obesity by relieving stress and balancing hormones. There are many ways in which one can meditate. Try different methods and stick to the one that suits you the most. In addition, it is imperative to frequently visit your physician just to get better guidance on maintaining the wellbeing of your mind and body.