May 31 (UPI) -- A study by the The North American Menopause Society found obesity can contribute to more severe hot flashes and menopause symptoms.
Researchers studied 749 Brazilian women between age 45 and 60, finding that obese women typically had more severe consequences of vasomotor symptoms, or VMS, such as hot flashes -- including lower quality of life and decreased work deficiency and lost work time.
VMS includes hot flashes and night sweats which impact sleep and quality of life in menopausal and post-menopausal women.
The research validates the thermoregulatory theory, which says that body mass index, or BMI, is associated with VMS because body-fat tissue works as a strong heat insulator making the distribution of heat more difficult causing obese women to experience more hot flashes.
The study also showed increased BMI was linked to increased joint and muscle pain and more severe urinary problems in menopause.
"This study supports earlier studies that found that women who are heavier tend to have more hot flashes, particularly close to menopause," says Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton, NAMS executive director, said in a press release. "In some studies, but not all, weight loss and exercise have both been shown to reduce hot flashes in women who are obese, thus giving women even more reason to create a healthier lifestyle for themselves."
Researchers said the findings prove the importance of weight control in women going through menopause to minimize the effects of menopause symptoms.