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As you get older, you might notice that maintaining your usual weight becomes more difficult. Many women gain weight around the menopause transition. Research shows that belly fat also carries serious health risks.
The hormonal changes of menopause might make you more likely to gain weight around your abdomen than around your hips and thighs. But hormonal changes alone don’t necessarily cause menopause weight gain.
Instead, the weight gain is usually related to aging, as well as lifestyle and genetic factors. For example, muscle mass typically diminishes with age, while fat increases. Loss of muscle mass decreases the rate at which your body uses calories, which can make it more challenging to maintain a healthy weight. If you continue to eat as you always have and don’t increase your physical activity, you’re likely to gain weight. Genetic factors also might play a role in menopause weight gain. If your parents or other close relatives carry extra weight around the abdomen, you’re likely to do the same.
The tendency to gain or carry weight around the waist — and have an apple, rather than a pear shape — might have a genetic component, as well.
Although subcutaneous fat poses cosmetic concerns, visceral fat is linked with far more dangerous health problems, including heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol and breathing problems
Research also has associated belly fat with an increased risk of premature death — regardless of overall weight. Some studies have found that, even when women were considered a normal weight based on standard body mass index measurements, a large waistline increased the risk of dying of cardiovascular disease.