Objective: The objective of this study was to investigate the association between reproductive events and abdominal obesity (waist circumference, ≥ 88 cm) and general obesity (body mass index, ≥ 30.0 kg/m) in a sample of women between the ages of 40 and 65 years treated at an outpatient clinic in southern Brazil.
Methods: This was a cross-sectional study of a sample of 617 women from southern Brazil. Menopause status was classified as premenopausal, women who had regular menstrual cycles; perimenopausal, women who had irregular menstrual cycles whether in periodicity or flow; or postmenopausal, women whose last menstrual period occurred more than 12 months before the time of interview. Poisson regression was used to calculate crude and adjusted prevalence ratios and their respective 95% CIs.
Results: The prevalence rates of abdominal and general obesity were 66.6% (95% CI, 62.8%-70.3%) and 45.5% (95% CI, 41.5%-9.4%), respectively. After adjustment for demographic, socioeconomic, and behavioral variables, early menarche (≤ 11 y) and parity were strong predictors of abdominal and general obesity, presenting a dose-response relationship. Women with a history of three or more pregnancies and menarche at age 11 years or earlier had a 25% higher prevalence of abdominal obesity (95% CI, 1.07-1.46) and a 75% increase in obesity (95% CI, 1.37-2.24) compared with nulliparous or primiparous women with menarche at 14 years or older. Women with a postmenopause status showed an increase of 52% in general obesity, compared with those with a premenopause status.
Conclusions: Characteristics of reproductive life may have a strong influence on body fat buildup in women during the menopausal transition.