Effect of diet with or without exercise on abdominal fat in postmenopausal women: A randomised trial

Willemijn A. Van Gemert, Petra H. Peeters, Anne M. May, Adriaan J. H. Doornbos, Sjoerd G. Elias, Job Van Der Palen, Wouter Veldhuis, Maaike Stapper, Jantine A. Schuit, Evelyn M. Monninkhof*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

    20 Citations (Scopus)
    268 Downloads (Pure)


    We assessed the effect of equivalent weight loss with or without exercise on (intra-) abdominal fat in postmenopausal women in the SHAPE-2 study.

    The SHAPE-2 study is a three-armed randomised controlled trial conducted in 2012–2013 in the Netherlands. Postmenopausal overweight women were randomized to a diet (n = 97), exercise plus diet (n = 98) or control group (n = 48). Both intervention groups aimed for equivalent weight loss (6–7%) following a calorie-restricted diet (diet group) or a partly supervised intensive exercise programme (4 h per week) combined with a small caloric restriction (exercise plus diet group). Outcomes after 16 weeks are amount and distribution of abdominal fat, measured by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with the use of the three-point IDEAL Dixon method.

    The diet and exercise plus diet group lost 6.1 and 6.9% body weight, respectively. Compared to controls, subcutaneous and intra-abdominal fat reduced significantly with both diet (− 12.5% and − 12.0%) and exercise plus diet (− 16.0% and − 14.6%). Direct comparison between both interventions revealed that the reduction in subcutaneous fat was statistically significantly larger in the group that combined exercise with diet: an additional 10.6 cm2 (95%CI -18.7; − 2.4) was lost compared to the diet-only group. Intra-abdominal fat loss was not significantly larger in the exercise plus diet group (− 3.8 cm2, 95%CI -9.0; 1.3).

    We conclude that weight loss of 6–7% with diet or with exercise plus diet reduced both subcutaneous and intra-abdominal fat. Only subcutaneous fat statistically significantly reduced to a larger extent when exercise is combined with a small caloric restriction.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number174
    Number of pages9
    JournalBMC Public Health
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2019


    • Abdominal Fat
    • Aged
    • Caloric Restriction
    • Exercise
    • Female
    • Humans
    • Middle Aged
    • Netherlands
    • Obesity
    • Overweight/prevention & control
    • Postmenopause
    • Program Evaluation
    • Weight Reduction Programs/methods
    • Intra-abdominal fat
    • Weight loss
    • RISK
    • Subcutaneous fat


    Dive into the research topics of 'Effect of diet with or without exercise on abdominal fat in postmenopausal women: A randomised trial'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this