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Midlife Weight Gain and Health: In the News. Again.

Midlife Weight Gain and Health: In the News. Again.

By Sheryl Kraft

Created: 10/05/2009
Last Updated: 11/12/2018

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Since I'm a health writer, I read just about everything I can get my hands on (and find time for) on new studies, findings, health reports and statistics...you get the story. And sometimes, it just gets frustrating. I mean, weight is a BIG issue (pun intended :) and here it is, turning up again, like a bad penny.

Here's the latest: If you want to age well, avoid midlife weight gain. (Kind of an oxymoron, isn't it: midlife and avoiding weight gain?) We try; we really do. But...it happens.

Researchers followed more than 17,000 women over 24 years, with an average age of 50. The study, published in the British Medical Journal, found that being overweight in middle age diminishes your chances of a "healthy survival" into your 70s by as much as 80 percent. The researchers considered "healthy survival" to mean living without chronic disease and also being able to perform everyday activities like climbing stairs and grocery shopping.

, they found, resulted in multiple chronic diseases, impaired cognitive function, physical function and mental health.

Most women I know have gained some weight since they were 18. I'll include myself in that statement, despite being a diligent exerciser and being careful with my diet. Then again, there is that friend of mine (you know who you are) who still wears the same jeans she wore in high school (despite having two children who are now in their 20s).

Did I mention I'm insanely jealous? Well, the only thing to do is to keep trying, right? Get some exercise and move your body (hate to exercise? Find a buddy to work out with); (okay, sometimes you do have to cheat a bit and let yourself have that cookie - but the trick is to ) and learn all about and why you don't want it.

And, I have just one more thing to say: It's important not to give up, just because these researchers love studying weight and then reporting all their bad news. I'm not throwing in the towel yet!

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Christine, You have another challenge - pregnancy in midlife. I'd love to hear more about that!

You certainly can be overweight and healthy. The fat is more dangerous if it settles in your middle, close to your heart and liver. Tis better to have it in your rear and thighs...supposedly.
And I do agree that the nonfat and lowfat enticements are sometimes very misleading and therefore dangerous for those who think they can eat in unlimited quantities because of these labels. I try to stay away from processed foods as much as possible, too.

Midlife and weight gain seem to go hand in hand and awareness of that is a good place to start. What I feel has to be mentioned is that the conventional wisdom about eating no fat versions of real foods, lots of grains--most people choose a processed variety--and limiting healthy proteins--like eggs, and deprivation is the way to lose. it's simply not.
Interesting to note that the rise in diabetes and obesity can be tracked exactly to the introduction and proliferation of non fat and low fat processed foods and diets. Oh throw depression in there too.

I have a zone that I try to keep my weight in. If it goes above that zone, then I either cut back on eating or start moving more. My weight fluctuates, because, of course, I get lazy and regain. But as long as I stay within that 5 pound range, it's easy to lose it, too.

I agree it's important not to gain TOO much weight as we age, but I've seen several studies that suggest gaining a little weight isn't so bad. Like a BMI in the 25-26 range may be healthier than being too skinny.

Whatever way your weight wind blows, it always seems to be a struggle!

What if you are healthy, though, but just a bit overweight? I'm wondering if it's really that LITTLE bit of fat or if it's if you are really heavy or not moving your body and oxygenating your blood. I know "heavy" women who run marathons and are very fit and I don't think they are going to succumb to any lifestyle-induced diseases...

It's not just in midlife that weight tends to settle in the middle. Again, good reminder to do crunches and resist the cookies more often.

The notion of taking baby steps, of being gentle with oneself while also being realistic and willing to face the real issue of weight all feel really important with any issue that is a struggle.

I can't wait to get started getting back into shape after my baby is born. Pregnancy IN middle age - it's a weird place to be.

A reminder to all of us that those extra pounds aren't only a vanity issue.

I dieted until my daughter's wedding and then let myself eat that extra cookie only to discover once you start indulging, it's hard to stop, and gaining weight around the belly is so easy once you reach 60. Thanks for reminding me to avoid midlife weight gain if I want to age well, and who doesn't?

Yay! congratulation on the "all clear." Two wonderful words, for sure!!

Now that I have the "all clear" from my doctor after my surgery, I'm ready to start working out again. I hear the treadmill and free weights calling my name. :-)


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