Research Article| Volume 55, ISSUE 2, P116-125, September 20, 2006

Depressive symptoms, physical activity, and weight gain in premenopausal Latina and White women



      Describe changes and examine the association between depressive symptoms, physical activity, body mass index (BMI), and perceived health among Latina (n = 81) and White (n = 151) women in the first year of the late-premenopausal stage.


      Longitudinal study focused on the biopsychosocial health of midlife women (ages 40–50 years) with regular menstrual cycles and not taking hormones. Frequency of depressive symptoms, BMI, waist to hip ratios, and self-reported physical activity levels were obtained at 6-month intervals and perceived health at 12 months. Results are reported here for 232 women who remained premenopausal (low FSH/regular cycles) for the first 12 months.


      Depressive symptoms were similar for Latinas (11.1 ± 9.8) and Whites (11.1 ± 8.2) and increased by 2.3 points over time for all women. Latinas had higher BMI (28 ± 5.7, p < 0.01) than Whites (26 ± 5.7). Body weight increased an average of 1.2 lbs over 12 months for both groups. Both groups reported sub-optimal levels of physical activity that did not change over time, but Latinas reported higher levels at all 3 time points. Controlling for age and ethnicity, women in service or agricultural occupations reported higher activity levels than women in other roles. Better perceived health at 12 months was predicted by lower baseline BMI (r = 0.43, p < 0.01) and fewer depressive symptoms (r = 0.38, p < 0.01).


      Depressive symptoms, weight gain and physical inactivity among women in the late-premenopausal stage point to the need for interventions focused on causal factors other than hormonal changes and menopause.


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