(HealthDay News) – The increase in total body fat and abdominal fat seen at menopause is due to the hormonal changes taking place, which can be improved by estrogen treatment.

Susan R. Davis, MBBS, PhD, from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, and colleagues reviewed the scientific and medical literature for studies examining the association between menopause and body weight and body composition.

The researchers found that changes in the hormonal environment at menopause were associated with an increase in total body fat and particularly abdominal fat. This increased weight was associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular and metabolic disease as well as reduced health-related quality of life and sexual function. The accumulation of abdominal fat could be reduced by estrogen therapy, according to animal and human studies, which correlated with reductions in overall fat mass, improvements in insulin sensitivity, and reductions in the rate of developing type 2 diabetes.

“The hormonal changes across the perimenopause substantially contribute to increased abdominal obesity which leads to additional physical and psychological morbidity,” Davis and colleagues conclude. “There is strong evidence that estrogen therapy may partly prevent this menopause-related change in body composition and the associated metabolic sequelae.”

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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