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An increase in vasomotor symptoms, persistent vasomotor symptoms, and a high frequency of vasomotor symptoms may be associated with weight gain among women.

The presence of vasomotor and other symptoms during menopause is associated with weight changes in women. Additionally, vasomotor symptoms may impair quality of life, cause sleep disturbances, and hinder memory and concentration. 

This longitudinal retrospective study assessed whether frequency changes in vasomotor symptoms preceded changes in weight. The results indicate that an increase in vasomotor symptoms, persistent vasomotor symptoms, and a high frequency of vasomotor symptoms tend to precede weight gain. The findings are published in the Menopause journal.

Study Characteristics

The cumulative analytical sample comprised 1743 participants. The mean age of the participants was 51 years. The majority of the participants, at the time of the follow-up visit, were in late menopause.

Frequency of Vasomotor Symptoms

Vasomotor symptoms were prevalent in the study population, with 62.2% of the participants reporting a minimum of 1 day of vasomotor symptoms at one of the two preceding visits. A total of 13.5% of the visits were associated with the onset of new vasomotor symptoms since the prior visit.  Moreover,  27.2% of the visits were related to the high frequency of vasomotor symptoms.

Gradual Long-Term Weight Gain

The results indicated a cumulative increase in weight over the period of 10 years, however, the weight differences over a 1-year period were small. The mean visit-to-visit increases in weight, body mass index (BMI), and waist circumference were 0.57 (4.9) point percentage (ppt), 0.65 (5.1) ppt, and 0.64 (5.2) ppt, respectively. 

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Weight Gain Linked to More Vasomotor Symptoms

According to the primary analysis, an increase in weight was associated with a rise in the number of days of vasomotor symptoms. The increase in symptom frequency was also related to proportional increases in waist circumference, weight, and BMI. Moreover, extended exposure of the study participants to the high frequency of vasomotor symptoms over a period of 10 years resulted in a significant increase in BMI, waist circumference, and weight.

Role of Sleep and Menopause Status

The association between weight gain and the frequency of vasomotor symptoms was mediated by the reported sleep problems. Furthermore, absolute and statistically significant increases in weight were related to the onset of ≥ 1 day of vasomotor symptoms in women who were in post-menopause or late perimenopause.    

Source

Gibson, C. J., Shiozawa, A., Epstein, A. J., Han, W., & Mancuso, S. (2023). Association between vasomotor symptom frequency and weight gain in the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation. Menopause (New York, N.Y.), 30(7), 709–716. https://doi.org/10.1097/GME.0000000000002198