In women, it has been demonstrated that major weight increases often occur during menopause, the time in a woman’s life in which cyclic ovarian function ends and the ovarian hormones estrogen and progesterone decline.
Researcher Judy Cameron, of Oregon Health & Science University, and her colleagues studied 47 adult female monkeys. Nineteen of the monkeys had their ovaries surgically removed. That resulted in a decline in estrogen and progesterone levels, much like menopause. The other 28 monkeys were the control group.
“What we witnessed was that the absence of these hormones resulted in a 67 percent jump in food intake and a 5 percent jump in weight in a matter of weeks,” Cameron says.
“We would expect weight gain to continue over time. Additionally, we noted an increase of the hormone leptin, which is produced by fat cells and has been shown to play a role in food intake,” she says.
The study noted a relationship between the loss of ovaries in the monkeys and a change in metabolism. Cameron and her colleagues plan to do more research in this area to better understand metabolism changes through life related to menopause and other factors.