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Aiming to reduce obesity among middle-aged women, new national recommendations

A national health organisation advises doctors to discuss weight control with all middle-aged women.

The goal of new national standards is to prevent unhealthily high weight gain that might cause life-threatening illnesses in women between the ages of 40 and 60. The Annals of Internal Medicine has released the study review article and clinical recommendations.

“More than two-thirds of middle-aged women are overweight or obese. Given women’s increased risk for weight gain in midlife, there is a critical need for intervention aimed at preventing obesity and the host of serious health outcomes associated with it,” said Kimberly D. Gregory, MD, MPH, corresponding author of the clinical guidelines and vice chair, Women’s Healthcare Quality and Performance Improvement in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Cedars-Sinai.

Gregory is a member of the Women’s Preventive Services Initiative (WPSI), which created the guidelines after reviewing clinical trials involving around 52,000 middle-aged women. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists began the project in 2016, and it is run in conjunction with the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“In the past, most studies and recommendations have focused on investigating the benefits and harms of weight-loss tools used by women who were already overweight. But as a prevention strategy, these new guidelines strongly encourage healthcare providers to begin addressing the issue of weight gain and obesity risk with patients who are at normal weight,” said Gregory.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity has been deemed an epidemic in the United States, with 42% of people having a body mass index (BMI) of greater than 30. (CDC). Between 18.5 and 25 BMI is considered healthy, whereas between 25 and 30 BMI is considered overweight.

Women gain weight at a rate of 1.5 pounds annually on average during midlife, which raises their chance of developing an overweight or obese BMI. The emphasis of the new recommendations is on counselling women about weight management when they are at a healthy weight rather than waiting until they are overweight or have become obese.

“Women are at higher risk for severe obesity due to menopause and age-related physiological changes,” said Amanda Velazquez, MD, director of Obesity Medicine in the Department of Surgery at Cedars-Sinai. “Significant weight gain is associated with a serious risk of developing cardiovascular disease, hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease and numerous cancers. That is why advising middle-aged women with normal to overweight BMI on the need to limit weight gain is critical,” said Velazquez, who did not participate in the study.

According to the WPSI analysis, some behavioural counselling techniques to stop midlife women from gaining weight in the future might lead to a little amount of weight loss.

Expert in obesity and weight loss Velazquez says it’s crucial to keep in mind that maintaining a healthy weight is a lifelong adventure and investment, and that there is a tonne of support available.

Aiming to reduce obesity among middle-aged women, new national recommendations

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