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Reproductive characteristics and obesity in middle-aged women seen at an outpatient clinic in southern Brazil

Theodoro, Heloísa MS1; Rodrigues, Alice Dalpicolli MS1; Mendes, Karina Giane PhD2,3; Liane, Ruth Henn PhD1; Paniz, Vera Maria Vieira PhD1; Olinto, Maria Teresa Anselmo PhD1,4

doi: 10.1097/gme.0b013e3182503834
Original Articles

Objective The objective of this study was to investigate the association between reproductive events and abdominal obesity (waist circumference, ≥88 cm) and general obesity (body mass index, ≥30.0 kg/m2) in a sample of women between the ages of 40 and 65 years treated at an outpatient clinic in southern Brazil.

Methods This was a cross-sectional study of a sample of 617 women from southern Brazil. Menopause status was classified as premenopausal, women who had regular menstrual cycles; perimenopausal, women who had irregular menstrual cycles whether in periodicity or flow; or postmenopausal, women whose last menstrual period occurred more than 12 months before the time of interview. Poisson regression was used to calculate crude and adjusted prevalence ratios and their respective 95% CIs.

Results The prevalence rates of abdominal and general obesity were 66.6% (95% CI, 62.8%-70.3%) and 45.5% (95% CI, 41.5%-9.4%), respectively. After adjustment for demographic, socioeconomic, and behavioral variables, early menarche (≤11 y) and parity were strong predictors of abdominal and general obesity, presenting a dose-response relationship. Women with a history of three or more pregnancies and menarche at age 11 years or earlier had a 25% higher prevalence of abdominal obesity (95% CI, 1.07-1.46) and a 75% increase in obesity (95% CI, 1.37-2.24) compared with nulliparous or primiparous women with menarche at 14 years or older. Women with a postmenopause status showed an increase of 52% in general obesity, compared with those with a premenopause status.

Conclusions Characteristics of reproductive life may have a strong influence on body fat buildup in women during the menopausal transition.

From the 1Post-graduate Programme in Collective Health, University of Vale do Rios dos Sinos, RS, Brasil; 2Post-graduate Programme of Endocrinology, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, RS, Brasil; 3University of Caxias do Sul, RS, Brasil; and 4Department of Nutrition, Federal University of Health Sciences, Porto Alegre, RS, Brasil.

Received September 13, 2011; revised and accepted February 2, 2012.

Funding/support: This study was supported by the Brazilian National Research Council (CNPq–process n.304793/2010-8) and Research Support Foundation of Rio Grande do Sul State, Brasil (Edital FAPERGS 01/2010–ARD).

Financial disclosure/conflicts of interest: None reported.

Address correspondence to: Maria Teresa Anselmo Olinto, PhD, Postgraduate Programme in Collective Health, University of Vale do Rios dos Sinos, Ave. Unisinos 950, São Leopoldo, RS, CEP 93022-000, Brasil. E-mail:

©2012The North American Menopause Society