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Fewer Excess Pounds May Mean Fewer Hot Flashes
Date:7/12/2010

By Ellin Holohan
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, July 12 (HealthDay News) -- Weight loss might help middle-aged women who are overweight or obese reduce bothersome hot flashes accompanying menopause, according to a new study.

"We've known for some time that obesity affects hot flashes, but we didn't know if losing weight would have any effect," said Dr. Alison Huang, the study's author. "Now there is good evidence losing weight can reduce hot flashes."

Study participants were part of an intensive lifestyle-intervention program designed to help them lose between 7 percent and 9 percent of their weight.

Huang, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of California, San Francisco, said the findings could provide women with another reason to take control of their weight. "The message here is that there is something you can do about it (hot flashes)," said Huang.

About one third of women experience hot flashes for five years or more past menopause, "disrupting sleep, interfering with work and leisure activities, and exacerbating anxiety and depression," according to the study.

The women in the study group met with experts in nutrition, exercise and behavior weekly for an hour and were encouraged to exercise at least 200 minutes a week and reduce caloric intake to 1,200-1,500 calories per day. They also got help planning menus and choosing what kinds of foods to eat.

Women in a control group received monthly group education classes for the first four months.

Participants, including those in the control group, were asked to respond to a survey at the beginning of the study and six months later to describe how bothersome hot flashes were for them in the past month on a five-point scale with answers ranging from "not at all" to "extremely."

They were also asked about their daily exercise, caloric intake, and mental and physical functioning using instruments widely
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