The health and nutritional status of multiethnic perimenopausal women

Terese Esmin Maitland, Florida International University


An integrated, dual-phase study design assessed the health and nutritional status and practices of African-American (A-A), Caribbean (A-C), and white non-Hispanic (W-A) women during perimenopause (40–55 years). During Phase I, four focus groups (n = 37) of male and female participants discussed the health and social implications of perimenopause. A conceptual framework for the main study (Phase II) was developed from the focus groups' findings, in concert with the main study's specific aims and objectives. The main study, a cross-sectional survey, quantitatively assessed the health and nutritional status of a convenience sample of 109 women (25 A-A, 31 A-C and 53 W-A), who met specific eligibility criteria. Using seven instruments, sociodemographic, dietary, medical, reproductive health, health practice and anthropometric data were collected. The groups were of comparable age, education, and socioeconomic status (SES). Despite these similarities, statistically significant interethnic nutritional status differences were found. Significantly more total energy and energy from fat were consumed by A-A than W-A and A-C women. Also, significantly more A-A and A-C than W-A women were overweight or obese with android-type weight patterning. Overall, iron and calcium Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA's) were not met by 35% and 68% of participants, respectively. Iron deficiency anemia was reported by 29% of participants while 33% reported heavier menstrual bleeding. Coupled with suboptimal iron intakes, this is likely to present a serious public health problem. Similarly, increased bone demineralization characteristic of perimenopause, coupled with suboptimal calcium intakes could precipitate another public health problem, osteoporosis. Participants had different expectations about the role of medical care during perimenopause. Significantly more white (57%) than black (38% [A-A and AC]) women sought medical attention for symptoms. Whereas Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) was prescribed for 25% of them, only 13% were compliant at enrollment. The trends and statistically significant findings of this study have huge public health policy implications. It is imperative that appropriate policies are formulated to ensure that America's ethnically diverse perimenopausal women have ready access to culturally appropriate care. This would optimize their health outcomes, and enhance their quality of life and productive capacities at this critical juncture of their lives.

Subject Area

Nutrition|Public health|Womens studies

Recommended Citation

Maitland, Terese Esmin, "The health and nutritional status of multiethnic perimenopausal women" (2001). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3018478.