More than one-third of U.S. adults were obese in 2005-2006, according to a National Health and Nutrition survey conducted for the Center for Disease Control. Approximately 33 percent of those found to be obese were men and 35 percent were women.
While many people know that eating healthier foods and getting more exercise can reduce the chance of being obese, some seem to have more trouble than others. Often times those people are women.
Vasudevan A. Raghavan, MBBS, MD, MRCP, director of cardiometabolic, lipid services and the Scott & White Medical Weight Management Program said there are several medical reasons why it might be more difficult for women to shed unwanted pounds.
“Pregnancy and menopause are physiological events that are unique to women and serve as risk portals for weight gain,” he said.
Because these times of life can affect a woman’s metabolism, getting tested for metabolic disorders might be something to consider for those who seem to be doing everything “right” and still can’t lose weight.
“Tests may reveal dysglycemia or glucose abnormalities—either Impaired Fasting Glucose (IFG) or Impaired Glucose Tolerance,” Dr. Raghavan said. “Both are component parts of Metabolic Syndrome, which confers a two to three times excessive risk for cardiovascular disease.”
Another factor that affects weight gain, especially in women, is stress.
“Family pressures may particularly affect women as many try to balance work and home needs,” he said. “This pressure can increase stress levels.”
Even though it seems as if the deck is stacked against women when it comes to weight loss, Dr. Raghavan said there are things we can do to increase our chances of success.
- Eat multiple small meals
- Small portion sizes
- Restrict red meat and eat only lean meat
- Restrict fatty and fried foods
- Restrict high glycemic index carbs like potatoes, beets, corn and sugary beverages
- Maintain a food diary, count calories, and limit eating out
- Don’t stock pantry with “weakness” foods
For more information about how to eat better and lose weight, go to the National Heart Lung Blood Institute’s Aim for a Healthy Weight page.