Women aged 40 to 60 should ALL be given weight loss counselling because they gain on average 1.5lbs a year and 43% of them are overweight, Federal-funded female health group says

  • Middle aged women are most likely to be obese and gain about 1.5lbs-a-year
  • Recommendation said they should be offered counseling to help maintain a healthy weight or limit weight gain
  • It was from the Women’s Preventive Services Initiative, launched in 2016 to ‘review and update’ advice on women’s health
  • Some experts said it would help people make ‘positive’ diet choices
  • But another warned it could feed into ‘weight stigma’ in later life  

All women aged 40 to 60 years old should be given weight loss counseling, a federally-funded female health group has said.

This is because among women those who are middle aged are most likely to be obese and gain about 1.5lbs-a-year on average, the doctors added.

The recommendation comes from the Women’s Preventive Services Initiative (WPSI) which said women should be offered counseling to help maintain a healthy weight or limit weight gain. It was launched in 2016 to ‘review and update’ advice on women’s health.

Some experts reacted favourably to the advice, saying it would help encourage patients to pay attention to their weight and influence ‘positive’ meal choices.

But one expert laid into it, warning it would feed into ‘weight stigma’ and ignored underlying causes of obesity including living in poorer areas and a lack of access to healthy food.

A federaly-funded women’s health group has recommended that all women aged 40 to 60 should be given weight loss counseling to help them avoid obesity (file photo)

Data showed about 43 percent of women in their 40s and 60s — or two in five — are overweight or obese. 

But it is slightly higher among men in the same age group at 46 percent, although similar guidance does not appear to exist for them.

Obesity is one of the biggest threats to health in the modern age, putting people at risk of a multitude of complications including diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.


Body mass index (BMI) is a measure of body fat based on your weight in relation to your height. 

Standard Formula:

  • BMI = (weight in pounds / (height in inches x height in inches)) x 703

Metric Formula:

  • BMI = (weight in kilograms / (height in meters x height in meters))


  • Under 18.5: Underweight
  • 18.5 – 24.9: Healthy
  • 25 – 29.9: Overweight
  • 30 – 39.9: Obese 
  • 40+: Morbidly obese 


The WSPI warned women at middle age were more vulnerable to obesity because they were going through lifestyle changes related to the menopause.

This leads to a drop in oestrogen levels, which may lead to a rise in fat mass. Aging can also lead to factors including the metabolism slowing down.

They said advice to help ‘maintain’ a healthy weight or ‘limit’ weight gain should be given in counselling sessions. 

The guideline — published in the Annals of Internal Medicine — was led by Dr David Chelmow, an obstetrics expert at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine. Most of the authors behind the report were women.

The WPSI is backed by the American Collegte of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and a branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 

Dr Kate White, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Boston University, slammed the guidance saying it could come across as ‘insensitive’.

She told UPI: ‘To come in and say, “You should add losing weight on top of [difficult circumstances] is, wilfully or not, blind to how people live and how difficult it is to lose weight and keep it off.

‘You can’t minimize the risk that brining up weight with all patients is going to feed further into weight stigma, which evidence has shown has real consequences for people’s health.’

She added that the recommendation was also ‘waving aside the things that matter the most’ on why weight gain happens.

This includes a lack of access to healthy foods, scant time to exercise and challenges related to living in disadvantaged communities. 

In their recommendation, they said: ‘The WPSI recommends counseling midlife women aged 40 to 60 years with normal or overweight BMI (18.5 to 29.9 kg per metre squared) to maintain weight or limit weight gain to prevent obesity and its associated health conditions.

‘Counseling may include individualized discussion of healthy eating and physical activity.’

It is already recommended for obese women to receive counseling to bring down their weight.

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