Researchers in the United States have found that monkeys whose ovaries are removed eat 67 percent more food and gain 5 percent of body weight in just a few weeks.
The animal experiment may help to explain why many women gain weight after menopause even though many try not to. According to the researchers removing the ovaries induced an immediate menopause by cutting off the female hormone oestrogen.
Women often go through the menopause between the ages of 40 and 60 and may as a result find that they put on weight. However, lifestyle changes may also have an impact. Monkeys provide a good research model because they also have 28-day menstrual cycles and go through menopause.
The team found that low oestrogen in primates resulted in a higher intake of food. In the first two months they experienced a 67 percent increase in food intake. The researchers also noticed an increase in the hormone Leptin, which is produced by fat cells and has been shown to play a role in food intake.
(Prim Care. 2003 Jun;30 (2) pp 317-25.)