Objective: To test whether current gray matter volume (GMV) covaried with previously obtained longitudinal measures of weight gain—as assessed by increases in body mass index (BMI)—among otherwise healthy postmenopausal women. Cross-sectional results indicate that reduced GMV may be associated with excess body weight.
Methods: Demographic, biometric, and behavioral measures were obtained from 48 women as part of the Pittsburgh Healthy Women Study, a longitudinal epidemiological investigation initiated between 1983 and 1984. In 2005 and 2006, these women took part in a brain imaging protocol.
Results: Premenopausal BMI and a priori chosen confounding variables, including the number of years post menopause, an aggregate measure of perceived life stress spanning a 20-year period, resting blood pressure, total cerebral volume, and severity of white matter hyperintensities (a suspected indicator of aging-related silent cerebrovascular disease), explained ∼22% of variance in total GMV. An additional 15% of the variance was uniquely explained by the change in BMI between pre- and postmenopausal longitudinal assessments, such that an increase in BMI predicted a greater reduction in GMV.
Conclusions: An increase in BMI during the menopausal transition and beyond is associated with reduced GMV among otherwise healthy women.
BMI = body mass index; FOV = field of view; FWHM = full width at half-maximum; NEX = number of excitations; TE = time to echo; TI = time to inversion; TR = time to repetition.