Each year thousands of women across the country suffer from menopause. Menopause is linked to several symptoms such as hot flashes, insomnia, headaches, decreased interest in sex as well as weight gain. For women who are adding some unwanted pounds, a new study suggests helpful tips to battle weight gain during menopause.

Researchers from the University of Pittsburg Medical Center examined 500 overweight women in their 50's and 60's. They were randomly assigned to either an intensive nutritional and exercise counseling program or a weight-loss focused program. They were instructed to report what they ate for four years. Surveys were conducted at six months and then again at the four-year mark.

Lead study author, Bethany Barone Gibbs, found that by making small changes, such as eating fewer desserts and drinking fewer sugar-sweetened beverages, there was a significant link to weight loss. Women, who consumed more fish, ate less at restaurants, ate fewer desserts and fried foods only demonstrated short-term weight loss at the six month mark.

Additionally, women who consumed more fruits and vegetables, but less meat and cheese demonstrated long-term weight loss at the end of the four-year period, even though they did not show any at the six-month mark.

Gibbs did acknowledge the frequency of eating out or reducing your fired food consumption did not show any direct link to long-term weight loss but eating more fruits and vegetables and eating less meat did lead to long-term results. Gibbs hopes this new information can assist older women to keep the pounds off in the future.

Weight loss in women undergoing menopause is important due to the change in metabolism and lifestyle.

According to Dr. Lauren Streicher, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Feinberg School of Medicine, although the women experience hormonal changes that affects weight distribution, it is the body's metabolism that causes weight gain. When muscle mass decreases, fat increases, which in turn reduces the body's metabolic rate.

Dr. Jaques Moritz, director of gynecology at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center advises women to watch their weight before menopause and then double the efforts during menopause.

The study was published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.