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Stanford University School of Medicine

Stanford expert addresses middle-age weight mystery

Many people notice significant changes in their body as they age – for some, it's grey hair or expanding bald spots. For others, it's aching joints. However, a quick Google search of the problems of middle age overwhelmingly yields weight problems as a top result.

In a recent interview with BeWell@Stanford, women's health expert Marcia Stefanick, PhD, addresses the seemingly unavoidable weight gain and explains the possible causes:

It is challenging to tease apart age-related changes in weight and body composition from changes related to menopause. Age is certainly associated with an increase in body fat and decrease in skeletal muscle mass that the majority of women, and men, experience in middle age. There are both biological, including hormonal and lifestyle, explanations for these changes. Of course, the menopausal transition which all women undergo represents a particularly challenging period of metabolic and physiologic change.


There are many socio-cultural and biological factors associated with aging that lead to steady weight gain in many women and men. Weight management is difficult at any age, but especially for women during menopause — particularly if they are overweight or obese as they enter this phase of life. Even for men, body composition changes with age and weight loss becomes more challenging.

Stefanick’s interview addresses the difficulties faced by both men and women and also offers suggestions for weight management during the tricky years.

Previously: Women's health expert: When it comes to prevention, diet and exercise are key and When it comes to weight loss, maintaining a diet is more important than diet type
Photo by Vidmir Raic

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