Inflammation and Weight: Are They Related?

At the recent international menopause Society meeting in Vancouver, a session on the relationship between excess weight and inflammation was presented. Fat cells called adipocytes,  produce hormones such as TNF( tumour necrosis factor), IL-6 ( interleukin 6), leptin and resistin.  These substances cause a pro-inflammatory state which leads to decreased sleep quality, increased pain and increased potential for cancer development.    It is also very negative for heart disease risk and the development of diabetes.

As the prevalence of obesity increases in menopause, we must be mindful of the impact that this weight is having.  It is known that people who have a lower caloric intake diet have an expanded life span over those with high calorie diet.  Of interest, women who have greater amounts of abdominal fat have a harder time dissipating heat during a hot flash and therefore are more affected than those who have less fat accumulation. Not only is excess weight hard on the joints and worsens osteoarthritis, the fat cells themselves are generating excess inflammation which contributes to further pain.

Setting reasonable goals is important. A weight loss of even 5% can be very meaningful.
Currently 14% of the global population is obese,  with a rate of 34.8% in the United States.

Caloric restriction and exercise are the fundamentals of weight management.  A healthy goal is 150 to 175 minutes of aerobic exercise per week which can be split over 3 to 4 sessions. In addition, 2 sessions of resistance training is suggested per week. This can be easier said than done, especially when people have mobility and joint issues.  Stay tuned to our next blog to address some strategies for exercise with these limitations.


Carolyn Whiskin is the Pharmacy Manager for Charlton Health.  Carolyn specializes in the treatment of autoimmune diseases, pharmaceutical compounding, women’s health, pain and smoking cessation. Carolyn has won provincial and national awards for her commitment to patient care and public service.

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