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Epidemiology and Population Health

Oral contraceptives use and development of obesity in a Mediterranean cohort: the SUN (Seguimiento Universidad de Navarra) Project

Abstract

Background

The use of oral contraceptives (OC) has been suggested to represent a potential risk factor for the development of obesity. However, the available literature assessing the relationship between OC use and the development of obesity is still scarce and characterised by controversial heterogeneity. We prospectively evaluated the association between the use of OC and the development of obesity in female participants of a middle-aged and free-living cohort.

Methods

The study population included 4920 female Spanish university graduates, initially nonobese women, with mean age (standard deviation) 28.2 (5.4) years. The study population was followed up for a mean of 8.6 (3.7) years. Self-reported use of OC and body mass index were assessed at baseline and biennially during follow-up. We used generalized estimating equation models to evaluate the association between exposure to OC and the development of obesity.

Results

After adjusting for potential confounders, baseline OC use was associated with higher odds of new-onset obesity during the full follow-up period (multivariable-adjusted odds ratio [OR] = 1.78; 95% Confidence Interval [CI]: 1.01–3.15). The continued use of OC for periods of time longer than 2 years was significantly associated with a higher risk of developing obesity (OR = 2.82, 95% CI: 1.17–6.82).

Conclusions

According to our prospective cohort study, OC use is significantly associated with higher odds of obesity development, especially when the use of OC is steady and extends over periods of more than 2 years.

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Acknowledgements

We thank other members of the SUN Group: Alonso A, Álvarez-Álvarez I, Balaguer A, Barbagallo M, Barrientos I, Barrio-López MT, Basterra-Gortari FJ, Battezzati A, Bazal P, Benito S, Bertoli S, Beulen Y, Beunza JJ, Buil-Cosiales P, Canales M, Carlos S, Carmona L, Cervantes S, Cristobo C, de Irala J, de la Fuente-Arrillaga C, de la O V, de la Rosa PA, Delgado-Rodríguez M, Díaz-Gutiérrez J, Díez Espino J, Domínguez L, Donat-Vargas C, Donazar M, Eguaras S, Fernández-Montero A, Fresán U, Galbete C, García-Arellano A, García López M, Gardeazábal I, Gutiérrez-Bedmar M, Gomes-Domingos AL, Gómez-Donoso C, Gómez-Gracia E, Goñi E, Goñi L, Guillén F, Henríquez P, Hernández A, Hershey MS, Hidalgo-Santamaría M, Hu E, Lahortiga F, Leone A, Llorca J, López del Burgo C, Marí A, Marques I, Martí A, Martín Calvo N, Martínez JA, Martínez-Lapiscina EH, Mendonça R, Menéndez C, Molendijk M, Molero P, Murphy K, Muñoz M, Núñez-Córdoba JM, Pajares R, Papadaki A, Parletta N, Pérez de Ciriza P, Pérez Cornago A, Pérez de Rojas J, Pimenta AM, Pons J, Ramallal R, Razquin C, Romanos A, Ruano C, Ruiz L, Ruiz-Canela M, Ruiz Zambrana A, Salgado E, San Julián B, Sánchez D, Sánchez-Bayona R, Sánchez-Tainta A, Sánchez-Villegas A, Santiago S, Sayón-Orea C, Schlatter J, Serrano-Martinez M, Toledo E, Toledo J, Tortosa A, Valencia F, Vázquez Z, Zarnowiecki D, Zazpe I. The SUN Project has received funding from the Spanish Government-Instituto de Salud Carlos III, and the European Regional Development Fund (FEDER) (RD 06/0045, CIBER-OBN, Grants PI10/02658, PI10/02293, PI13/00615, PI14/01668, PI14/01798, PI14/01764, PI17/01795, and G03/140), the Navarra Regional Government (27/2011, 45/2011, 122/2014), and the University of Navarra. We very specially thank all participants in the SUN cohort for their long-standing and enthusiastic collaboration and our advisors from Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health Walter Willett, Alberto Ascherio, Frank B. Hu and Meir J. Stampfer who helped us to design the SUN Project, the PREDIMED study and the PREDIMED-PLUS on-going trial.

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Correspondence to Alfredo Gea.

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San-Juan-Rodriguez, A., Bes-Rastrollo, M., Martinez-Gonzalez, M.A. et al. Oral contraceptives use and development of obesity in a Mediterranean cohort: the SUN (Seguimiento Universidad de Navarra) Project. Int J Obes 44, 320–329 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41366-019-0442-9

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