A new study shows that overweight and obese women who suffer from hot flashes can reduce the severity of their hot flashes if they lose weight through diet or exercise.
Hot flashes, which are associated with sleeping problems, anxiety and depression, are the most common complaints of women during menopause and persist for five or more years past menopause in up to one third of women, according to the researchers. In multiple observational studies, women with a higher body mass index (BMI) have reported more frequent or severe hot flashes compared to women with lower BMI, but the effect of weight loss on hot flashes has been unknown.
“We still don’t understand the underlying mechanism of a hot flash, or why some women experience flashes and others don’t,” said Alison J. Huang, MD, assistant professor of internal medicine in the UCSF Department of Medicine, who was the lead author on the paper. “The good news is that millions of women who are overweight and troubled by hot flashes may be able to reduce their discomfort through diet and exercise.”
Findings are available July 12 in the online edition of the Archives of Internal Medicine.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 64.1 percent of adult women in the United States are overweight and 35.5 percent of women are obese. Those estimates are based on a BMI of 25-29.9 for the overweight category and 30 or more for the obese category. BMI, expressed as weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared, commonly is used to classify weight.