The effect of change in reproductive hormones and menopause on incident obesity (body mass index ≥30 kg/m2) and severe obesity (body mass index ≥35 kg/m2) was evaluated over 9 years in 3,260 US women recruited in the multiethnic Study of Women's Health Across the Nation in 1996–1997. After 9 years, cumulative incidences of obesity and severe obesity reached 21.8% and 12.3%, respectively. In multivariate analysis, hormone changes, chronic health conditions, lower physical activity, race/ethnicity, and age were significantly associated with incident obesity and/or severe obesity. The odds of incident severe obesity increased with surgical menopause (odds ratio (OR) = 5.07, 95% confidence interval (CI): 2.29, 11.20; P < 0.001) and initiation of hormone therapy prior to 12 months of amenorrhea (OR = 2.94, 95% CI: 1.14, 7.58; P = 0.03). Predictors of obesity included an increase in free androgen index (OR = 1.37, 95% CI: 1.12, 1.68; P = 0.002) and a decrease in sex hormone-binding globulin (OR = 0.60, 95% CI: 0.45, 0.80; P = 0.0005). Similar results were found for severe obesity. Obesity rates varied by race, but no hormone-by-race interactions were observed. These longitudinal data demonstrate that higher androgens, lower sex hormone-binding globulin, surgical menopause, and early hormone therapy use predict incident obesity and/or severe obesity in a multiracial cohort of women transitioning into menopause
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