| Tue, May 17, 2016 @ 09:00 AM

What Women Should Know About Losing Weight After 50

Posted by Medicare Made Clear

fitness-for-women-over-50A woman can eat right, get plenty of exercise and maintain a healthy weight her entire life. But she may start to gain weight and extra fat after age 50, especially around her belly. She may also find that losing weight is harder now than it was when she was younger.

Some weight gain may be age related. Women naturally start to lose muscle mass and gain fat as they get older.

Estrogen levels also start to decrease. This may cause body fat to settle deep inside the abdomen and around internal organs. This can happen even without gaining weight.

Excess fat and weight gain can cause problems far worse than clothing that no longer fits. They may cause serious health problems.

  • Postmenopausal women who are overweight and who have extra overall body fat are at greater risk for breast cancer.1
  • Having extra abdominal fat (belly fat) increases the risk for other diseases like certain colon cancers, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

Individuals who have extra abdominal fat may be at higher risk for disease even if their weight is considered normal based on body mass index (BMI) measurements.

Losing Weight After 50

You’ll probably need to restrict your calorie consumption as well as increase how much and how often you exercise.

Current guidelines recommend that most people get at least 2-1/2 hours of moderate exercise or 60 to 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week for overall health.1 If you’re a women over 50, 2-1/2 hours of exercise per week may not be enough to lose weight and keep it off. Research shows that women who exercise 5 hours every week lose significantly more weight and fat than women who exercise 2-1/2 hours per week.

You can start to build muscle and burn calories by walking at your local mall or working out at a gym. Most malls open their doors to mall-walkers at no charge and several Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans cover gym memberships.

Be sure to check with your health care provider before starting any new weight loss or exercise plan.

Find out if you qualify for obesity screening and weight-loss counseling.

You must have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher to qualify for this Medicare Part B benefit. All visits must be provided by a primary care doctor or other primary care provider in a primary care setting, such as your doctor’s office. The benefit usually includes a certain number of face-to-face visits.

  • One visit every week for the first month;
  • One visit every other week for months 2-6; and
  • One visit every month for months 7-12 if the beneficiary meets the 6.6 lbs. weight-loss requirement during the first six months.3

Obesity screening and counseling visits are preventive services. You will not be charged co-insurance or a co-payment for any of the visits. Medicare Part B covers all of the costs as long as your doctor or other provider accepts the Medicare Part B payment as payment in full. The Part B deductible does not apply.

If your doctor recommends more visits or services than what this benefit covers, you may be required to pay for some or all of the costs not covered by Medicare.


Losing weight after 50 can be difficult—but not impossible. Contact your health care provider for advice on how to reach your weight-loss goals. 

Related Content

Keeping Weight Off: 3 Steps to Success

Medicare Memo: How High is Your BMI?

Mind Over Fatter: A New Approach to Losing Weight After 50

For more information, explore MedicareMadeClear.com or contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048.


1 Effects of a High vs Moderate Volume of Aerobic Exercise on Adiposity Outcomes in Postmenopausal Women; Jama Oncology, Christine M. Friedenreich, PhD; Heather K. Neilson, MSc; Rachel O’Reilly, MSc; Aalo Duha, MD; Yutaka Yasui, PhD; Andria R. Morielli, BSc; Scott C. Adams, MSc; Kerry S. Courneya, PhD September 2015

2 Belly fat in women: Taking — and keeping — it off; Mayo Clinic, Mayo Clinic staff, June 8, 2013

3 Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), March 7, 2012


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