WHI analysis suggests weight loss may reduce hot flashes

August 17, 2012

Weight loss and a healthy diet may improve more than just a woman’s waistline. A low-fat diet reduced postmenopausal women’s hot flashes and night sweats in a study reported online by Menopause.

  • Weight loss ≥10% helped postmenopausal symptoms

  • Dietary changes alone had less impact on VMS

Weight loss and a healthy diet may improve more than just a woman’s waistline. A low-fat diet reduced postmenopausal women’s hot flashes and night sweats in a study reported online by Menopause.

At the start of the Women’s Health Initiative Dietary Modification trial, vasomotor symptoms (VMS) were reported by about one-quarter of the 17,473 participating postmenopausal US women ages 50 to 79 years who were not using hormonal therapy. Most women in the study were overweight. Of those with VMS, 6% had moderately severe symptoms and 1% had severe symptoms.

Participants were assigned randomly to a yearlong program of reduced fat intake; increased fruit, vegetable, and whole grain consumption; and a behavior modification program of group sessions and nutritional consultation. Weight loss was not a goal of the program, but 21% of the diet group and 7% of the control group lost weight during the year. Women in the diet group lost an average of 4 to 5 lb.

After adjustment for variables, women with VMS in the diet program were 14% more likely than the control group to have elimination of symptoms; those who lost ≥10% of their body weight were 30% more likely (P=.04, P=.001). Of all women with VMS, those who lost ≥10 lb or ≥10% of their body weight were significantly more likely to experience resolution of symptoms than those with no weight loss (P=.008, P<.001).

Although participation in the diet program had no effect on moderate to severe VMS, weight loss >22 lb in either group was related to elimination of such symptoms.

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