Hormones, weight change and menopause

K. M. Davies, R. P. Heaney, R. R. Recker, M. J. Barger-Lux, J. M. Lappe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: To determine total body weight change occurring in women at mid-life, specifically with respect to occurrence of menopause and use of estrogen. DESIGN: Retrospective analysis of body weight measurements accumulated in two cohorts of healthy women participating in studies of skeletal metabolism. SUBJECTS: Cohort 1: 191 healthy nuns enrolled in a prospective study of osteoporosis risk, aged 35-45 in 1967; cohort 2: 75 women aged 46 or older and still menstruating, enrolled in 1988 in a study of bone cell dynamics across menopause. Roughly one-third of each group received hormone replacement after menopause. MEASUREMENTS: Body weight and height, age, menstrual status and use of estrogen replacement. Cohort 1: 608 measurements at 5 y intervals spanning a period from 17 y before to 22 y after menopause; cohort 2: 1180 measurements at 6-month intervals spanning a period from 5 y prior to 5 y after menopause. RESULTS: In cohort 1 weight rose as a linear function of age (both chronological and menopausal), both before and after cessation of ovarian function, at a rate of ∼0.43% y-1. Neither the menopausal transition nor the use of estrogen had an appreciable effect on this rate of gain. In cohort 2 the rate of gain seemed to diminish slightly at menopause. As with cohort 1, hormone replacement (or its absence) had no appreciable effect on weight. CONCLUSIONS: The long-term, total body weight trajectory at mid-life is not influenced appreciably by either cessation of ovarian function or by hormone replacement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)874-879
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Obesity
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2001

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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