Yesterday, rumors spread like wildfire on social media that R&B/Soul icon Diana Ross was pregnant at age 71. The source of the absurd rumors were photos that surfaced on social media showing Miss Ross with abdominal distention.

No, Miss Ross is not pregnant. One reason for her excess belly fat may be post-menopausal hormone levels.

As women age, our Estrogen levels decrease. Decreasing Estrogen levels causes metabolism to slow down and redistribute fat from the thighs and hips to the belly. Increased belly fat can lead to serious medical conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, heart disease, colon cancer, cirrhosis of the liver (caused by alcoholism) and death.

There are other medical reasons for abdominal swelling, such as kidney failure, ovarian or uterine cancers, ascites, and gastrointestinal disorders. But for the purpose of this post, we’ll focus on post-menopausal belly fat.

Fighting the battle of the belly bulge after age 40 can be a frustrating battle. Belly fat tends to resist our best efforts to get rid of it. Some women spend thousands of dollars on liposuction and other fat reduction surgeries. While other women, like Miss Ross, simply allow nature to take its course.

If you can’t afford expensive surgeries, there are other ways you can reduce belly fat without breaking the bank.


Consult with your doctor before beginning any exercise routine.

Pamela Peeke, MD, MPH, FACP, author of Body for Life for Women, suggests an exercise regimen that includes aerobic activities which improves your cardiovascular efficiency and pumps more oxygenated blood to your muscles.

Loss of muscle mass after age 40 decreases the way our bodies burn calories for energy. So increasing your muscle mass through exercise is beneficial. Muscle burns more calories than fat.

Mix up your exercise routine. Don’t let your body get too accustomed to one particular exercise routine. In other words, get out of the gym and ride a bike, swim, hike, dance, or take a walk in the park with friends. You need to burn at least 400 to 500 calories from aerobic exercise.


Staying upright helps reduce belly fat and burn more calories. In other words, get off the couch and walk. “Stay as vertical as possible throughout the day,” Peeke says. “As soon as you sit down, you turn off your fat-release enzymes.”


Dr. Peeke suggests watching your food portions and including more protein, fiber, fruits and vegetables in your diet. A slower metabolism means food you eat will take longer to convert into energy. “When you combine protein and fiber, it’s very satisfying, so you’re more inclined to eat less,” Peeke says.

Here is an example of a menopause diet.


Choose your fats wisely. Healthy fats comes from vegetable sources such as olive oils and nuts. The key is to eat more healthy fats and less bad fats. Foods high in healthy fats include fish like salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines, and albacore tuna. Fish are also good sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Foods high in bad fats (saturated or trans fats) include red meat, butter, cheese, and ice cream. Avoid eating other unhealthy fats such as hydrogenated oils, palm oil, and anything that contains saturated or trans fats.


Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day. A glass is 8 ounces (or 240cc). You should drink at least half an ounce of water for every pound you weigh. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should drink at least 75 ounces of water a day. This formula is not etched in stone.


The time that you eat is just as important as what you eat. Dr. Peeke suggests watching what you eat in the evening. “What a menopausal woman does from 3 p.m. on every day will determine how big her belly is. That’s when most women tend to overeat and oversnack, and that’s when they get themselves into all kinds of trouble.”


Sleep is very beneficial to losing excess belly fat. Try to get to bed by 9 p.m. every night, and avoid watching TV or browsing the Internet on your laptop computer in bed. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body is more likely to be too tired to exercise. “Your hunger and appetite hormones become discombobulated,” Peeke says. “So you keep eating and eating — and it turns to belly fat.” Dr. Peeke suggests getting 7-8 hours of sleep a day.


If something in your life is causing you stress, eliminate it. “There is a stress-fat connection,” Dr. Peeke says. “If you walk around completely stressed all the time, your cortisol levels will increase, and that will make it easy for you to deposit fat deep inside the belly.”


Consult with your doctor to see if you are a good candidate for hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Low Estrogen can cause hot flashes, mood swings, hair loss, night sweats, and other bothersome symptoms. It is important to understand that Estrogen replacement alone will not help you lose weight. In fact, Estrogen replacement alone may cause increased overall body fat. Estrogen should be balanced with Progesterone and Testosterone replacements for best effect. But getting HRT can be tricky because many doctors shy away from hormone replacement due to the cancer link. Studies have shown an increased risk of breast cancer caused by hormone replacement. Before starting HRT your doctor will ask you if you have a family history of cancer. If you do, HRT may not be an option for you.

This has been your Medical Minute.

More Info On the Web

Menopause – WebMD

Less Sleep May Mean Less Sex After Menopause – WebMD

Estrogen Belly Fat – WebMD

10 Ways to Beat Menopausal Belly Fat –


Any medical information published on this blog is for your general information only and is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice. You should not take any action before consulting with your personal physician or a health care provider. and its affiliates cannot be held liable for any damages incurred by following advice found on this blog.