The numbers in America are numbing: 61.9 percent (64.5 million) of women 20+ years old are overweight, while 33.4 percent (34.7 million) are obese. And women worldwide are catching up. For instance, in Europe—depending on the country, between 6.2 percent and 36.5 percent are obese. Clearly, obesity in American and European women has reached epidemic proportions.
Why women are prone to weight gain
It all seems so simple: eat less, exercise, lose weight. But it isn’t so easy, because factors other than calories count in determining weight—especially for women. Here, three key reasons women are prone to put on pounds:
Emotions. Our research revealed that the #1 reason women overeat is to cope with stress and other unpleasant feelings, such as anxiety, anger, or loneliness. Called emotional eating, it means many women turn to food to “feed” negative emotions and to achieve a momentary sense of false relief.
Dieting. If your muscles and metabolism (the rate at which your body processes food) are in good shape, it’s easier to lose weight and keep it off. But cut calories whenever you “go on a diet,” and your muscles weaken and metabolism slows down, sabotaging weight loss.
Hormones. If you’re pregnant or experiencing menopause, your reproductive hormones (naturally occurring chemical messengers, such as estrogen and progesterone) rise and fall a lot. Changing concentrations of hormones can contribute to weight gain.
Is there a solution to such challenges? To begin, change your mindset. Evaluate your weight management success not only by how much you weigh, but also by improvements in measures of good health, such as blood pressure or cholesterol levels. In other words, health and healing are your goals, not a number on a scale.
Deborah Kesten, MPH, and Larry Scherwitz, PhD, are certified wellness and cardiac coaches, who specialize in preventing, halting, and reversing overeating, overweight, and obesity and heart disease. They are also international lifestyle and nutrition researchers and award-winning authors. Visit them at www.Enlightened-Diet.com to learn more about them and their Coaching and Optimal Eating programs.