THURSDAY, March 17, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Lifestyle interventions targeting menopausal weight gain should happen during perimenopause, according to a study published online Feb. 28 in Menopause.

Lacey M. Gould, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and colleagues evaluated body composition, fat distribution, and metabolism at rest and during exercise in premenopausal, perimenopausal, and postmenopausal women. The analysis included 72 women (aged 35 to 60 years).

The researchers found that body fat percent was significantly lower in premenopausal than perimenopausal women despite similarities in fat mass and fat-free mass between groups. In premenopausal women, the android-to-gynoid ratio was significantly lower than in perimenopausal women. The groups were similar with respect to resting energy expenditure. During moderate-intensity cycle ergometer exercise, fat oxidation was significantly greater in premenopausal than postmenopausal women. Compared with perimenopausal and postmenopausal women, the change in respiratory exchange ratio between rest and moderate-intensity exercise was significantly lower in premenopausal women. All three groups were similar with respect to lifestyle factors, including diet and physical activity.

“This study underscores the adverse body composition and metabolic changes that occur during the menopause transition, which contribute to the increase in cardiovascular risk associated with menopause,” Stephanie Faubion, M.D., medical director of the North American Menopause Society, said in a statement. “Additional research is needed to determine whether there is an opportunity to prevent menopause-related shifts in body composition and metabolism with sustainable lifestyle interventions.”

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