Effects of Weight Loss with and without Exercise on Regional Body Fat Distribution in Postmenopausal Women

Ann Nutr Metab. 2017;70(4):312-320. doi: 10.1159/000475766. Epub 2017 Jun 9.


Background/aims: The purpose was to determine whether lifestyle interventions have different effects on regional fat in women with normal glucose tolerance vs. impaired glucose tolerance (NGT vs. IGT).

Methods: Changes in glucose metabolism (2-h oral glucose-tolerance tests), android to gynoid fat mass ratio (dual energy X-ray absorptiometry [DXA]), visceral to subcutaneous abdominal fat area ratio (CT), and abdominal to gluteal subcutaneous fat cell weight (FCW; adipose tissue biopsies) were determined in 60 overweight postmenopausal women (45-80 years) following 6 months of weight loss alone (WL; n = 28) or with aerobic exercise (AEX + WL; n = 32).

Results: The interventions led to ∼8% decrease in weight, but only the AEX + WL group improved fitness (↑11% in VO2max) and reduced the android-to-gynoid fat mass ratio (↓5%; p < 0.05). Both NGT and IGT groups reduced visceral and subcutaneous abdominal fat areas and abdominal and gluteal FCWs, which related to improvements in homeostatic model assessment (r = 0.34-0.42) and 2-h glucose (r = 0.34-0.35), respectively (p < 0.05). The decline in FCW was 2× greater in women with IGT following WL (p < 0.05). The ratios of abdominal-to-gluteal FCW did not change following either intervention.

Conclusions: The mechanisms by which WL with and without exercise impact regional fat loss should be explored as reductions in abdominal fat area and subcutaneous FCW appear to influence glucose metabolism. This is a work of the U.S. Government and is not subject to copyright protection in the United States. Foreign copyrights may apply. Published by S. Karger AG, Basel.

Keywords: Aerobic exercise; Body fat distribution; Postmenopausal women; Weight loss.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Body Composition
  • Body Fat Distribution*
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Glucose Intolerance
  • Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood
  • Life Style
  • Middle Aged
  • Overweight / therapy
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Postmenopause*
  • Weight Loss*


  • Blood Glucose
  • Insulin