The results of a new study published in The Journal of Nutrition suggest that yogurt can help lower obesity risk in women during the menopausal transition. In this longitudinal analyses, Moore (Boston University) and colleagues reported that those with the highest yogurt intakes had the lowest weight gain for 12 years surrounding menopause.

Declining levels of estrogen during perimenopause can lead to changes in fat distribution and increased risk of obesity. The effects of dairy foods on weight change remain controversial. The inconsistency of the association between total dairy and weight could be attributed to the different effects of individual dairy products. To bridge the knowledge gap, this study investigated the independent associations of different types of dairy foods, alone and in combination with overall diet patterns and physical activity, with weight gain and risk of obesity in perimenopausal women.

The study utilized data from the Nurses’ Health Study II, which was launched in 1989 with an enrollment of 116,429 registered nurses 25-42 years of age. For this study, the exam period, which included data on participants from 1989 to 2015, focused on information 6 years before and 6 years after menopause occurred. Weight change for 12 years surrounding menopause was derived from self-reported weight data. Dairy food intakes were estimated as mean intakes over the same 12 years. 

Those with the highest yogurt intakes had the lowest weight gain at every exam period. This was not the case for other forms of dairy. Consuming more than 2 servings per week of yogurt, compared with consuming 1 serving per month, was associated with a 31% lower risk of obesity. The highest total dairy intake (2 or more servings per day compared with less than 1 serving per day) was associated with only a 12% reduction in obesity risk. Higher activity levels and alternative healthy eating index scores were independently associated with reductions in risk of obesity, but higher intakes of yogurt strengthened these beneficial associations.

Study results suggest that higher intake of yogurt is associated with less weight gain and reduced obesity risk among perimenopausal women. Incorporating yogurt intake as a component of a healthy dietary pattern may be beneficial for reducing weight gain during this critical life period.


Yuan M, Hu FB, Li Y, Cabral HJ, Das SK, Denney JT, Moore LL. Dairy Foods, Weight Change, and Risk of Obesity During the Menopausal Transition. The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 153, Issue 3, March 2023, Pages 811-819,

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