Disorders of eating and body image during the menopausal transition: associations with menopausal stage and with menopausal symptomatology

Abstract

Objective

Recent reports from our laboratory and others suggest that the menopausal transition may represent a window of vulnerability for eating disorders in women. Here, we present new findings regarding this issue.

Methods

We surveyed 230 women aged 40–60 years using an anonymous questionnaire focused on eating-disorder and body-image symptomatology. We then compared groups of respondents based on (a) menopausal stage as assessed by World Health Organization (WHO) criteria and (b) menopausal symptomatology as assessed by the Menopause Rating Scale (MRS).

Results

WHO-defined menopausal stage (premenopausal, perimenopausal, and postmenopausal) showed no significant associations with eating and body-image measures. However, MRS scores showed strong associations with most measures of the Eating Disorder Examination Questionnaire, as well as with questions regarding satisfaction with body image. These associations remained little changed even when removing the four psychological items from the MRS score and examining only the association of the MRS somato-vegetative and urogenital items with these outcome variables.

Discussion

Our data augment existing evidence that the menopausal transition may be associated with eating and body-image disturbances. However, reported menopausal stage, which is difficult to define reliably, may be less informative than menopausal symptoms as a predictor of disordered eating and associated symptoms.

Level of evidence

V—descriptive survey study.

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Fig. 1

Data availability

The data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.

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Funding

This study was not supported by any funding.

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Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

BM-M contributed to conception and design, development of methodology, analysis and interpretation of data, drafting and revision of the manuscript, and study supervision. BM-M has full access to all data of the study and takes responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the analysis. SV contributed to conception and design, development of methodology, acquisition, analysis and interpretation of data, and drafting and revision of the manuscript. VD contributed to conception and design, development of methodology, acquisition, analysis and interpretation of data, and drafting and revision of the manuscript. PH contributed to conception and design, development of methodology, analysis and interpretation of data, drafting and revision of the manuscript. MD contributed to conception and design, development of methodology, and revision of the manuscript. CI-R contributed to conception and design, development of methodology, drafting and revision of the manuscript, and study supervision. HG-P contributed to analysis and interpretation of data and drafting and revision of the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Barbara Mangweth-Matzek.

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Conflict of interest

All of the authors declare that no conflict of interest exists.

Ethical approval

All procedures were approved by the Ethics Commission of the Medical University Innsbruck and were conducted in accordance with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Mangweth-Matzek, B., Rupp, C.I., Vedova, S. et al. Disorders of eating and body image during the menopausal transition: associations with menopausal stage and with menopausal symptomatology. Eat Weight Disord (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40519-021-01141-4

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Keywords

  • Menopause
  • Disordered eating
  • Eating disorders
  • Body image
  • Middle-aged women