Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Menopause Health Center

Select An Article

Menopause and Weight Gain

Font Size

Menopause doesn't cause you to gain weight. But because extra pounds can creep on as women age, a spare tire around the middle has often been dubbed the "meno-pot" or "meno-pudge."

Don’t ditch your skinny jeans, though -- here's the truth about this "middle-age spread" and what you can do about it.

Recommended Related to Menopause

Hormone Replacement Therapy: Benefits and Risks

Many women say hot flashes and night sweats are the worst menopause symptoms. They can steal your sleep and wreak havoc on your waking hours, too. The sudden heat, which usually lasts from 30 seconds to 10 minutes, can make your heart pound, leave you red in the face and chest, and wake you up drenched. If you want relief, "hormone therapy is the most effective treatment," says JoAnn E. Manson, MD, a professor at Harvard Medical School. Hot flashes and other menopause symptoms happen when your...

Read the Hormone Replacement Therapy: Benefits and Risks article > >

Why It Happens

Women tend to have more fat during middle age than men do. Even if you don't add pounds, you may find that clothes don’t fit because the waist is too tight. What gives?

Doctors think several things can work together to explain why weight gain can strike around this time:

  • We burn fat more slowly as we age. All bodies slow down over time.
  • Many women exercise less in their 40s, 50s, and 60s. Busy lives and lapsed gym cards mean less muscle and more fat.
  • Falling hormone levels, plus your genes, cause your body to store fat in new places after menopause. You may have once had more padding at the hips. Now there's more at the waist. This can shift your shape from pear-like (wider at hips and thighs) to apple-like (wider at waist and belly).

What doesn’t add pounds? Hormone levels. There's no proof that menopause hormone therapy can correct the weight gain. But regular exercise -- even something as simple as walking -- can help many symptoms of menopause.

Why You Want to Avoid 'Meno-Pot'

Whatever the cause, more menopausal women in the U.S. are overweight than at their normal weight. Those extra pounds come with added health concerns, too.

Belly fat is linked to heart problems, stroke, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, and breast and colon cancer.

Even when body mass index (BMI -- a measure of body fat based on height and weight) is normal, a large waist (35 inches or more for women) along with other risks is linked to more chances of getting diabetes in women.

How to Keep the 'Meno-Pot' at Bay

Excess weight responds well to some effort. Here's what helps:

Eat a bit less. Pounds gained now may be more likely to go right to your middle. Since your goal should be to lessen weight gain overall, eating just 200 fewer calories a day in your 50s can help.

Eat healthier. Food choices make a big change. In a study, women lost weight at menopause by eating a diet with more nutrients and fewer calories. They ditched sugary drinks, fried foods, meats, cheese, and desserts for fish, fruits, and vegetables.

Maintain muscle. Regular exercise helps boost your metabolism and burns off what you eat, and helps your body shed fat faster overall. Keeping active adds muscle mass, which also helps prevent weight gain. Walking, jogging, and strength training also help you shed pounds.

Manage your menopause symptoms.Hot flashes and poor sleep can raise your stress levels. Stress packs on pounds. Exercise can help. Ask your doctor what else might work for you.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on April 29, 2014
Next Article:

Today on WebMD

woman walking outdoors
How to handle headaches, night sweats, and more.
mature woman holding fan in face
Symptoms and treatments.
woman hiding face behind hands
11 ways to keep skin bright and healthy.
Is it menopause or something else?
senior couple
mature woman shopping for produce
Alcohol Disrupting Your Sleep
mature couple on boat
mature woman tugging on her loose skin
senior woman wearing green hat
estrogen gene

WebMD Special Sections