Effect of diet and exercise, alone or combined, on weight and body composition in overweight-to-obese postmenopausal women

Obesity (Silver Spring). 2012 Aug;20(8):1628-38. doi: 10.1038/oby.2011.76. Epub 2011 Apr 14.


Lifestyle interventions for weight loss are the cornerstone of obesity therapy, yet their optimal design is debated. This is particularly true for postmenopausal women; a population with a high prevalence of obesity yet toward whom fewer studies are targeted. We conducted a year-long, 4-arm randomized trial among 439 overweight-to-obese postmenopausal sedentary women to determine the effects of a calorie-reduced, low-fat diet (D), a moderate-intensity, facility-based aerobic exercise program (E), or the combination of both interventions (D+E), vs. a no-lifestyle-change control (C) on change in body weight and composition. The group-based dietary intervention had a weight-reduction goal of ≥10%, and the exercise intervention consisted of a gradual escalation to 45-min aerobic exercise 5 day/week. Participants were predominantly non-Hispanic whites (85%) with a mean age of 58.0 ± 5.0 years, a mean BMI of 30.9 ± 4.0 kg/m(2) and an average of 47.8 ± 4.4% body fat. Baseline and 12-month weight and adiposity measures were obtained by staff blinded to participants' intervention assignment. Three hundred and ninety nine women completed the trial (91% retention). Using an intention-to-treat analysis, average weight loss at 12 months was -8.5% for the D group (P < 0.0001 vs. C), -2.4% for the E group (P = 0.03 vs. C), and -10.8% for the D+E group (P < 0.0001 vs. C), whereas the C group experienced a nonsignificant -0.8% decrease. BMI, waist circumference, and % body fat were also similarly reduced. Among postmenopausal women, lifestyle-change involving diet, exercise, or both combined over 1 year improves body weight and adiposity, with the greatest change arising from the combined intervention.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue
  • Adiposity
  • Body Composition*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Caloric Restriction
  • Diet*
  • Diet, Fat-Restricted
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intention to Treat Analysis
  • Life Style*
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / diet therapy
  • Obesity / therapy*
  • Patient Dropouts
  • Postmenopause*
  • Waist Circumference
  • Weight Loss*
  • Weight Reduction Programs