Researchers found that women who participated in a program that encouraged them to exercise more and eat less improved their hot flashes, more so than a group receiving little weight-loss coaching.
For the study, researchers followed more than 330 overweight and obese women who were participating in a study for women with incontinence - which is not related to menopause symptoms.
Two-thirds of the women were put through a program that educated them on healthy weight-loss strategies. They were also given meal plans and coupons for diet products and were told to record their daily exercise.
The other group went to a few educational sessions on weight loss and health.
About half of the women in both groups started the study complaining of hot flashes. At the beginning of the study and again after six months, these women were weighed and measured and they filled out questionnaires about their eating and exercise habits and about their recent hot flash symptoms.
Women in the weight-loss program dropped an average of 16 pounds and cut more than 2 inches off their waistlines over the six months, compared to about 4 pounds and 1 inch in the other group.
Researchers found that women who shed more pounds and waistline inches also reported greater improvement in their hot flash symptoms.
Almost half of women who got intensive weight-loss coaching saw improvements in their hot flashes, whereas 12 percent said their hot flashes got worse. In women without the intervention, 40 percent got better and a quarter reported worse symptoms.
The findings are encouraging seeing as many as 2 out of 3 women suffer from hot flashes at some point during menopause, and studies have shown that heavier women get more severe and more frequent hot flashes.
The study was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
For more information on natural strategies to manage menopause symptoms, control weight and stay healthy, check out Leslie Beck's newly revised book, The Complete Nutrition Guide to Menopause.
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