Reproductive characteristics and obesity in middle-aged women seen at an outpatient clinic in southern Brazil

Menopause. 2012 Sep;19(9):1022-8. doi: 10.1097/gme.0b013e3182503834.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Body Mass Index
  • Brazil / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Menarche / physiology
  • Menopause / physiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Obesity, Abdominal
  • Parity / physiology
  • Postmenopause / physiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Premenopause / physiology
  • Reproduction / physiology*
  • Waist Circumference