Weight gain and the menopause: a 5-year prospective study

Climacteric. 1999 Sep;2(3):205-11. doi: 10.3109/13697139909038063.


Objective: To investigate prospectively changes in weight, skin-fold measurements, waist circumference and waist/hip ratio in relation to changes in menopausal status, hormone therapy use and life-style factors.

Method: The study was a 5-year follow-up of volunteers from a population-based cohort of Australian-born women aged 46-57 years at baseline: 106 premenopausal, 106 perimenopausal and 21 hormone therapy users.

Results: Mean (SD) weight gain of the entire cohort over 5 years was 2.1 (5.1) kg. Baseline age was negatively associated with weight change (regression coefficient = -0.4, SE 0.1, p < 0.05). After 5 years, 20 women remained premenopausal, 80 were perimenopausal, 112 had become naturally postmenopausal and 21 remained on hormone therapy. Changes in weight were greater than zero (p < 0.05) in all groups except for the women who remained on hormone therapy. There was no significant difference in weight gain between women who remained premenopausal and those who had a natural menopause. Increases in suprailiac skin-fold measurements (p < 0.05) and in waist circumference and waist/hip ratio occurred in women who experienced the menopausal transition but not in those who took hormone therapy continuously. There was no association between weight change and baseline weight, exercise, alcohol intake or smoking.

Conclusion: Weight gain was not related to change in menopausal status nor to any life-style factors measured. Women who were older at baseline gained less weight than the younger members. Suprailiac skin-fold measurements, waist circumference and waist/hip ratio all increased during the menopausal transition. Continuous hormone therapy users showed no gain in mean weight, suprailiac skin-fold measurements or waist measurements over the follow-up period.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Body Constitution
  • Cohort Studies
  • Estrogen Replacement Therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Menopause*
  • Middle Aged
  • Postmenopause
  • Premenopause
  • Prospective Studies
  • Regression Analysis
  • Skinfold Thickness
  • Weight Gain*