Feed your 50

“Weight, No Wait”

For women who have moved through menopause, it is a complaint usually uttered over a glass of wine and appetizers, “I look at food and I gain weight.”  And most times, her friends who have also ‘gone through the change’ will nod in agreement.

Researchers wanted to know what were the steps necessary for post-menopausal women in their 50’s and 60’s to take the weight off and keep it off.

Bethany Barone Gibbs, PhD., with the University of Pittsburgh Department of Health and Physical Activity, led the study and spoke with MyFit50.  By the way, Pittsburgh is known for its Pierogies, a doughy dish made with sour cream and potato filling.


“You have to make a long-term change.”

Bethany Barone Gibbs, PhD.

Make a move

Dr. Barone Gibbs says nearly 500 overweight women were involved in the study and all of them were eager to slip into a smaller dress size.  Unfortunately for the participants, only half received extensive nutrition and exercise counseling.  The other 250 or so women were essentially on their own during this four year study.

What shouldn’t come as a surprise, the women who received the help, lost the most weight.  At the end of four years, 57 percent of the women with an exercise and diet ‘nudge’ lost at least five pounds compared with 29 percent of the women who didn’t have that kind of help.

“Oh, Behave”

While nutrition and exercise help can increase the odds of losing weight and keeping it off, researchers found there are changes only you can make.

Dr. Barone Gibbs says her research found making simple behavior changes helped when it came to taking off the weight and keeping it off for post-menopausal women.  She says for this age group studied, “short-term” diets don’t work.

But Dr. Barone Gibbs says they found “the interesting results were not just what worked but what didn’t work.”  And there is some good news in what didn’t work.

If you have been avoiding restaurants, thinking everything you order will be a ‘calorie bomb’, think again.

All of the women in the study ate outside the home at least three times a week.  The researchers found after four years, dining out didn’t seem to affect weight loss or weight gain.  But, Dr. Barone Gibbs says this “shouldn’t be interpreted that you can go into a restaurant and order anything you want.”   She says making healthy swaps are important whether you eat at home or in a restaurant.

We have a winner

She says the two consistent ‘weight-loss winners’ for the women happened when they reduced sugar-sweetened drinks and desserts.  The women lost weight early in the study and long term when they decreased these two high calorie items.

But Dr. Barone says what surprised her team is what changes took the longest to make a weight-loss difference.  She says “increasing fruits and vegetables and decreasing meats and cheese predicted weight loss at the four year mark but not at six months, which suggests these behavior changes may have a more gradual effect.”

The results of this research seem to indicate post-menopausal women don’t have to be resigned to weight gain.  They can lose the weight and keep it off if they make simple food swaps and follow an exercise plan.





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