There appears to be an epidemic of both obesity and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) in the world today. However, obesity per se is not a part of the phenotype in many parts of the world. Obesity is likely not a cause of PCOS, as the high prevalence of PCOS among relatively thin populations demonstrates. However, obesity does exacerbate many aspects of the phenotype, especially cardiovascular risk factors such as glucose intolerance and dyslipidemia. It is also associated with a poor response to infertility treatment and likely an increased risk for pregnancy complications in those women who do conceive. Although most treatments of obesity, with the exception of bariatric surgery, achieve modest reductions in weight and improvements in the PCOS phenotype, encouraging weight loss in the obese patient remains one of the front-line therapies. However, further studies are needed to identify the best treatments, and the role of lifestyle therapies in women of normal weight with PCOS is uncertain.
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