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Postmenopausal women lose less visceral adipose tissue during a weight reduction program

Park, Hye S. MD, PhD1; Lee, Ki-Up MD, PhD2


Objective Visceral adipose tissue (VAT) is increased in the postmenopausal state, which may contribute to an increase in cardiovascular diseases. This study was undertaken to investigate whether there is a difference in the change of VAT during a weight reduction program between premenopausal and postmenopausal obese women.

Design This study was a longitudinal clinical intervention of a weight reduction program, including lifestyle modification and adjuvant pharmacotherapy, for 12 weeks in 21 premenopausal and 19 postmenopausal obese women. Weight, height, body fat percentage, and waist and hip circumferences were measured. Visceral, subcutaneous, and total adipose tissue of the abdomen were determined by CT scan at the level of L4-L5 before and after weight reduction.

Results The percent changes in VAT and the visceral-to-subcutaneous adipose tissue ratio, as well as waist circumference and waist-to-hip ratio, in the postmenopausal women were significantly less than those in the premenopausal women, whereas the percent changes in hip circumference, fat mass, total adipose tissue, and subcutaneous adipose tissue were similar in the two groups. The association between percent changes of VAT and the percent change of waist circumference is stronger in postmenopausal than in premenopausal women.

Conclusions The postmenopausal women lost less VAT compared with the premenopausal women during the weight reduction program. This may make it more difficult for postmenopausal women to overcome the increased risk of cardiovascular diseases compared with premenopausal women.

From the 1Department of Family Medicine and the 2Department of Internal Medicine, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.

Received April 11, 2002; revised and accepted September 18, 2002.

Address reprint requests to Hye Soon Park, MD, PhD, Department of Family Medicine, Asan Medical Center, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, 388–1 Poongnap-dong, Songpa-gu, Seoul, Korea (South), 138–736. E-mail:

©2003The North American Menopause Society