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Am J Clin Nutr. 2001 Jul;74(1):90-5.

Ethnic differences in dietary intakes, physical activity, and energy expenditure in middle-aged, premenopausal women: the Healthy Transitions Study.

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Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70808, USA.



Menopause is a time of increased risk of obesity in women. The effect of menopause in African American women, in whom obesity is already highly prevalent, is unknown.


We compared dietary intakes and energy expenditure (EE) between middle-aged, premenopausal African American and white women participating in a longitudinal study of the menopausal transition.


Dietary intakes by food record, EE by triaxial accelerometer, physical activity by self-report, and body composition by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry were compared in 97 white and 52 African American women. Twenty-four-hour and sleeping EE were measured by whole-room indirect calorimetry in 56 women.


Sleeping EE (adjusted for lean and fat mass) was lower in African American than in white women (5749 +/- 155 compared with 6176 +/- 75 kJ/d; P = 0.02); however, there was no significant difference in 24-h EE between groups. Reported leisure activity over the course of a week was less in African American than in white women (556 +/- 155 compared with 1079 +/- 100 kJ/d; P = 0.02), as were the daily hours spent standing and climbing stairs. Dietary intakes of protein, fiber, calcium, magnesium, and several fatty acids were significantly less in African Americans, whereas there were no observed ethnic differences in intakes of fat or carbohydrate. Body fat within the whole group was positively correlated with total, saturated, and monounsaturated fat intakes and inversely associated with fiber and calcium intakes. Fiber was the strongest single predictor of fatness.


Ethnic differences in EE and the intake of certain nutrients may influence the effect of menopausal transition on obesity in African American women.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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