Hormones, weight change and menopause

Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2001 Jun;25(6):874-9. doi: 10.1038/sj.ijo.0801593.


Objective: To determine total body weight change occurring in women at mid-life, specifically with respect to occurrence of menopause and use of estrogen.

Design: Retrospective analysis of body weight measurements accumulated in two cohorts of healthy women participating in studies of skeletal metabolism.

Subjects: Cohort 1: 191 healthy nuns enrolled in a prospective study of osteoporosis risk, aged 35-45 in 1967; cohort 2: 75 women aged 46 or older and still menstruating, enrolled in 1988 in a study of bone cell dynamics across menopause. Roughly one-third of each group received hormone replacement after menopause.

Measurements: Body weight and height, age, menstrual status and use of estrogen replacement. Cohort 1: 608 measurements at 5 y intervals spanning a period from 17 y before to 22 y after menopause; cohort 2: 1180 measurements at 6-month intervals spanning a period from 5 y prior to 5 y after menopause.

Results: In cohort 1 weight rose as a linear function of age (both chronological and menopausal), both before and after cessation of ovarian function, at a rate of approximately 0.43% y(-1). Neither the menopausal transition nor the use of estrogen had an appreciable effect on this rate of gain. In cohort 2 the rate of gain seemed to diminish slightly at menopause. As with cohort 1, hormone replacement (or its absence) had no appreciable effect on weight.

Conclusions: The long-term, total body weight trajectory at mid-life is not influenced appreciably by either cessation of ovarian function or by hormone replacement.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Body Weight
  • Cohort Studies
  • Estrogen Replacement Therapy*
  • Estrogens
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Menopause*
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Weight Gain*


  • Estrogens