Healthy lifestyle before, during menopause may delay severe metabolic conditions – Healio

June 07, 2022

2 min read

Healthy lifestyle habits before and during menopause may delay or lessen severe metabolic conditions in women caused by potential increases in adiposity, according to findings published in Aging Cell.

“Although the menopausal transition predisposes women to increase in adiposity and as this may be difficult to completely avoid, also aiming for good lifestyle habits (physically active lifestyle and good diet quality) in midlife may help to alleviate the unwanted metabolic changes related to adipose tissue accumulation,” study author Hanna-Kaarina Juppi, a PhD student at the University of Jyväskylä in Finland, told Healio. “Higher physical activity level and better diet quality were associated with lower adiposity in middle-aged women, highlighting the significance of these daily choices in all age groups.”

Women who had healthy lifestyle habits — such as being physically active and eating a high-quality diet — may be able to delay or diminish severe metabolic conditions. Source: Adobe Stock
Women who had healthy lifestyle habits — such as being physically active and eating a high-quality diet — may be able to delay or diminish severe metabolic conditions. Source: Adobe Stock

Establishing cohorts

Juppi and colleagues evaluated data from two longitudinal cohort studies conducted from 2015 to early 2019 and from January 2019 to March 2020. Both studies used dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry and computed tomography to assess the associations between menopausal progression and total and regional body adiposity.

The researchers divided the participants from both studies — aged 47 to 55 years, with a mean baseline BMI of 25.5 kg/m2 — into two cohorts. The first was a short-term follow-up sample of 230 perimenopausal women who were followed until early postmenopause (mean follow-up time, 1.3 ± 0.7 years). The second cohort was a long-term follow-up sample of 148 women (mean follow-up time, 3.9 ± 0.2 years) who were pre- or perimenopausal at baseline and postmenopausal at the time of final measurement.

Hanna-Kaarina Juppi

Hanna-Kaarina Juppi

Overall, Juppi said that participants “had relatively healthy lifestyle habits to begin with” considering they were mostly nonsmokers, participated in moderate to vigorous physical activity and had low-risk weekly alcohol consumption.

Metabolic status, menopause correlation

From baseline, Juppi and colleagues found that the menopausal transition contributed to body fat accumulation and increased systemic leptin levels (short-term cohort, 8 ± 18.2 ng/mL; long-term cohort, 13.5 ± 23.2 ng/mL) and serum adiponectin levels (short-term cohort, 1,831 ± 4,285 ng/mL; long-term cohort, 3,159 ± 6,241 ng/mL) from baseline. However, resistin levels decreased from baseline to follow-up (short-term cohort, 1,599 ± 5,723 pg/mL; long-term cohort, 2,536 ± 7,353 pg/mL).

Additionally, the researchers found relative increases from 2% to 4% in the short-term cohort and from 7% to 14% in the long-term cohort for regional and total body adiposity measures, with a pronounced fat mass increase in the android area of 4% (P < .01) during short-term follow-ups and 14% (P < .001) during long-term follow-ups.

Based on the hormonal signals from adipose tissue, Juppi said the increased adiposity measures “did not seem to exert as detrimental of effects on their adipose tissue inflammation status as could have been expected,” noting that this may be due to baseline lifestyle habits.

The researchers noted that more adipose tissue accumulated around the waist area and central body regions compared with other regions during menopause, which can increase the risk for metabolic conditions in middle-aged and older women.

Moving forward, Juppi and colleagues concluded that health education should use these findings to encourage adult women to prioritize physical activity and a healthy diet to maintain body composition and metabolic health.

“Studies investigating the exact mechanism of how and which of the menopausal hormonal changes affect different adipose tissue depots are warranted for more detailed understanding of the issue,” Juppi said. “In addition, whether certain lifestyle habit changes (such as specific physical activities or menopausal hormone therapy) would especially benefit the metabolic health of middle-aged and older women.”