Menopause is associated with changes in fat distribution

  • Ambikairajah A & al.
  • Am J Obstet Gynecol
  • 26 Apr 2019

  • International Clinical Digest
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Takeaway

  • Menopause may affect distribution of body fat but does not appear to cause overall increased weight gain.

Why this matters

  • The effect of menopause on fat distribution is not well studied.
  • A 1-cm increase in waist circumference has been associated with a 2% increased risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD).
  • If postmenopausal women are at risk for central weight gain, this could explain their increased risk for CVD.

Key results

  • Overall fat mass increased in women from premenopause to postmenopause with the exception of leg fat percentage, which decreased.
  • Overall trends: BMI and body fat increased 0.16 kg/m2/year and 0.41%/year, respectively, through menopause, suggesting that age, and not menopause itself, affects weight gain.
  • Higher levels of testosterone relative to estradiol after menopause may play a role in increased central deposition of fat.
  • Women with hormone replacement had reduced central weight gain but had increased overall weight gain.

Study design

  • Systematic review and meta-analysis.
  • 201 studies reporting cross-sectional data and 11 studies reporting longitudinal data were included.
  • Differences in fat mass between healthy premenopausal and postmenopausal women analyzed.
  • Funding: None.

Limitations

  • Definitions of premenopause and menopause differed across studies.