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The effect of the menopausal transition on body composition and cardiometabolic risk factors: a Montreal-Ottawa New Emerging Team group study

Abdulnour, Joseph MSc; Doucet, Éric PhD; Brochu, Martin PhD; Lavoie, Jean-Marc PhD; Strychar, Irene EdD, RD; Rabasa-Lhoret, Rémi MD, PhD; Prud’homme, Denis MD, MSc

Menopause: The Journal of The North American Menopause Society: July 2012 - Volume 19 - Issue 7 - p 760–767
doi: 10.1097/gme.0b013e318240f6f3
Original Articles

Objective Cardiovascular disease is the first cause of mortality in women in North America. The risk of cardiovascular disease increases sharply after middle age in women, especially after menopause. The aim was to investigate changes in body composition and cardiometabolic profile throughout the menopausal transition.

Methods This was a 5-year observational, longitudinal study on the menopausal transition. The study included 102 premenopausal women at baseline (age, 49.9 ± 1.9 y; body mass index, 23.3 ± 2.2 kg/m2). Outcome measures include menopause status, body composition by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (total fat mass [FM], trunk FM, and total fat-free mass), waist circumference, visceral and abdominal subcutaneous fat, fasting glucose and insulin levels, homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance, plasma lipid levels (triglycerides, total cholesterol, and high- and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol), and resting blood pressure.

Results Repeated-measure analyses revealed significant increases for FM, percentage FM, trunk FM, visceral fat, plasma fasting glucose, and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (0.05 > P < 0.01) and a significant decrease for plasma glucose levels after follow-up. Those who were in perimenopause or postmenopause by year 3 of the study showed a significant increase in visceral fat (P < 0.01) compared with baseline. Despite some significant changes in the metabolic profile among the menopause statuses, the women did not show any cardiometabolic deterioration by the end of the study.

Conclusions Our results suggest that changes in body composition and fat distribution can occur in nonobese women as they go through the menopausal transition. However, these changes were not accompanied by cardiometabolic deteriorations in the present study.

This 5-year observational study showed that changes in body composition and fat distribution can occur in nonobese premenopausal women. However, these changes were not associated with cardiometabolic deteriorations.

From the 1School of Human Kinetics, Faculty of Health Science, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; 2Behavioural and Metabolic Research Unit, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; 3Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada; 4Research Centre on Aging, Social Services and Health Centre, University Institute of Geriatrics of Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada; 5Department of Kinesiology, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Quebec, Canada; 6Department of Nutrition, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Quebec, Canada; 7Centre de Recherche du Centre Hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal, Montréal, Quebec, Canada; 8Montréal Diabetes Research Centre, Montréal, Quebec, Canada; and 9Institut de Recherche Cliniques de Montréal Montréal, Quebec, Canada.

Received September 26, 2011; revised and accepted November 8, 2011.

Funding/support: This research was supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) (T 0602145.02). Éric Doucet is a recipient of a CIHR/Merck-Frosst New Investigator Award, a Canadian Foundation for Innovation New Opportunities Award, and an Early Research Award (Ontario). Rémi Rabasa-Lhoret and Martin Brochu holds a scholarship from FRSQ (Fonds de Recherche en Santé du Québec). Rémi Rabasa-Lhoret is the recipient of the J-A DeSève chair in clinical research.

Financial disclosure/conflicts of interest: None reported.

Address correspondence to: Denis Prud’homme, MD, MSc, Faculty of Health Science, University of Ottawa, 451 Smyth Road, Room 3028, Ottawa, ON, Canada, K1N 6N5. E-mail:

© 2012 by The North American Menopause Society.