To evaluate body composition, fat distribution, and metabolism at rest and during exercise in premenopausal, perimenopausal, and postmenopausal women.
This cross-sectional study in 72 women ages 35 to 60 years evaluated body composition via a fourcompartment model, fat distribution using dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry-derived android to gynoid ratio, metabolic measures via indirect calorimetry, and lifestyle factors using surveys. One-way analyses of variance and one-way analyses of covariance covaried for age and hormone levels (estrogen and progesterone) were used to compare groups.
Body fat percent was significantly lower in premenopausal than perimenopausal women (mean difference ± standard error: - 10.29 ± 2.73%, P = 0.026) despite similarities in fat mass and fat-free mass between groups (P≥0.217). Android to gynoid ratio was significantly lower in premenopausal than perimenopausal women (MD ± SE: -0.16 ± 0.05 a.u., P = 0.031). Resting energy expenditure was similar between groups (P = 0.999). Fat oxidation during moderate intensity cycle ergometer exercise was significantly greater in premenopausal than postmenopausal women (MD ± SE: 0.09 ± 0.03 g/min, P = 0.045). The change in respiratory exchange ratio between rest and moderate intensity exercise was significantly lower in premenopausal women than peri- (MD ± SE: -0.05 ± 0.03 a.u., P = 0.035) and postmenopausal women (MD ± SE: -0.06 ± 0.03 a.u., P = 0.040). Premenopausal women reported significantly fewer menopause symptoms than peri- (MD ± SE: -6.58 ± 1.52 symptoms, P = 0.002) and postmenopausal participants (MD ± SE: -4.63 ± 1.52 symptoms, P = 0.044), while similarities between groups were observed for lifestyle factors including diet and physical activity (P>0.999).
Perimenopause may be the most opportune window for lifestyle intervention, as this group experienced the onset of unfavorable body composition and metabolic characteristics.