Midlife is a time when many women experience a weight gain that raises their risk for obesity-related diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and certain cancers.
This is the thinking behind new recommendations from a group of OB-GYNs, family doctors, and other health professionals funded by the federal government. They want doctors to discuss obesity prevention strategies with their female patients aged 40 to 60 who are of a healthy weight or slightly overweight.
Being weighed is not something that everyone enjoys. Some patients and doctors are concerned that focusing too much on a woman’s weight can cause psychological and physical harm, such as low self-esteem, social isolation, and even the onset of an eating disorder.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill psychologist and director of the National Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders Christine Peat has said that some patients may go to extreme lengths to lose weight or prevent weight gain.
According to Peat, some people with eating disorders may resort to dangerous measures in an effort to feel better. Dangerous calorie restriction, intentional vomiting, and the misuse of laxatives or diet pills are all examples.
The Women’s Preventive Services Initiative, a nationwide coalition of medical experts and patient advocates, drafted the recommendations that were published in August in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The advisory group to the federal government found that women in their forties and fifties gained an average of 1.5 pounds per year due to factors such as sedentary lifestyle, menopause, and the natural aging process.
Women aged 40-60 with a normal or overweight body mass index (BMI) should have a discussion with their primary care physician about maintaining or reducing their weight to prevent obesity. The body mass index is a measure that considers both height and weight.