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Risk Profiles for Weight Gain among Postmenopausal Women: A Classification and Regression Tree Analysis Approach



Risk factors for obesity and weight gain are typically evaluated individually while "adjusting for" the influence of other confounding factors, and few studies, if any, have created risk profiles by clustering risk factors. We identified subgroups of postmenopausal women homogeneous in their clustered modifiable and non-modifiable risk factors for gaining ≥ 3% weight.


This study included 612 postmenopausal women 50-79 years old, enrolled in an ancillary study of the Women's Health Initiative Observational Study between February 1995 and July 1998. Classification and regression tree and stepwise regression models were built and compared.


Of 27 selected variables, the factors significantly related to ≥ 3% weight gain were weight change in the past 2 years, age at menopause, dietary fiber, fat, alcohol intake, and smoking. In women younger than 65 years, less than 4 kg weight change in the past 2 years sufficiently reduced risk of ≥ 3% weight gain. Different combinations of risk factors related to weight gain were reported for subgroups of women: women 65 years or older (essential factor: < 9.8 g/day dietary factor), African Americans (essential factor: currently smoking), and white women (essential factor: ≥ 5 kg weight change for the past 2 years).


Our findings suggest specific characteristics for particular subgroups of postmenopausal women that may be useful for identifying those at risk for weight gain. The study results may be useful for targeting efforts to promote strategies to reduce the risk of obesity and weight gain in subgroups of postmenopausal women and maximize the effect of weight control by decreasing obesity-relevant adverse health outcomes.

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