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Metabolism. 2009 Mar;58(3):311-5. doi: 10.1016/j.metabol.2008.09.030.

Longitudinal changes in abdominal fat distribution with menopause.

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Exercise Science Department, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY 13244-5040, USA.


Increases in abdominal fat have been reported with menopause, but the impact of menopause on abdominal fat distribution (visceral vs subcutaneous) is still unclear. The objective of the study was to determine if abdominal fat content (volume) or distribution is altered with menopause. Magnetic resonance imaging was used to quantify total abdominal, subcutaneous, and visceral fat in 8 healthy women, both in the premenopausal state and 8 years later in the postmenopausal state. Physical activity (PA) and blood lipids were also measured. Body weight and waist circumference did not change with menopause (pre- vs postmenopause: body weight, 63.2 +/- 3.1 vs 63.9 +/- 2.5 kg; waist circumference, 92.1 +/- 4.6 vs 93.4 +/- 3.7 cm); however, total abdominal fat, subcutaneous fat, and visceral fat all significantly (P < .05) increased with menopause (pre- vs postmenopause: total, 27 154 +/- 4268 vs 34 717 +/- 3272 cm(3); subcutaneous, 19 981 +/- 3203 vs 24 918 +/- 2521 cm(3); visceral, 7173 +/- 1611 vs 9798 +/- 1644 cm(3)). Although absolute adiposity changed with menopause, relative fat distribution was not significantly different after menopause (pre- vs postmenopause: subcutaneous, 73% +/- 3% vs 71% +/- 3%; visceral, 26% +/- 3% vs 28% +/- 3%). Lean mass, fat mass, and PA, along with total cholesterol and triglyceride levels, did not change with menopause. High-density lipoprotein and low-density lipoprotein both increased (P < .05), and the ratio of total cholesterol to high-density lipoprotein decreased (P < .05) with menopause. As measured longitudinally with magnetic resonance imaging, total abdominal fat content increased with menopause despite no change in PA, body weight, or waist circumference; however, menopause did not affect the relative abdominal fat distribution in these women.

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