Women and weight gain
For women, weight gain happens throughout all life stages, but each stage contains its own set of reasons and risk factors. Here, we explain from puberty on through menopause how and why women may gain weight--and how you can use that knowledge to your advantage to keep off the weight.
- The earlier a girl starts puberty, the more likely she is to be overweight or obese as an adult. If she starts her period before age 11, she is likely to weight between 9 and 11 pounds more than another woman who started hers after age 14. Additionally, as many as 26 percent of women who started puberty early were considered obese by age 30 compared with 15 percent of the other women.
- It's difficult to imagine weight gain as a problem during childhood, but the childhood obesity epidemic proves this is an important time to start healthy diet and exercise habits that will last throughout the child's adult life. It's never too early to start. In fact, the earlier you start your child on a road to healthy living, the better!
- Weight gain is expected during pregnancy, but you still have to proceed with caution and be careful not to gain an excessive amount of weight. Gaining 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy is usually the goal. Typically, a pregnant woman will gain 2 to 4 pounds in the first trimester, then 1 pound per week after that, but it depends on the woman's pre-pregnancy weight because 1 pound per week may be too much for some. Your doctor will give you guidance on what your ideal weight during pregnancy should be.
- After pregnancy, many women's bodies will hold on to 5 pounds of that gained weight, which may never be shed, but they generally will lose about 10 pounds immediately following delivery. They can lose 5 pounds a month in the next couple of months depending on the following factors: breastfeeding, diet and exercise level. By staying active, getting exercise, eating a healthy diet and breastfeeding, you can lose weight faster and easier.
- Two thirds of women are overweight by the time they reach their 50s. A drop in estrogen production is a possible cause, which causes the body to store fat, making weight loss more difficult.
- Weight loss can be more challenging for women after menopause, so it's important to seek the help of your doctor to ensure you're getting proper nutrition, exercise and remain in overall good health. By doing all of the above, you're increasing your chance of maintaining a healthy weight and leading a healthier, happier life.
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