Dietary habits and their relationship with hormones and metabolism in overweight and obese women with polycystic ovary syndrome


Correspondence: Paola Altieri, Division of Endocrinology, S.Orsola-Malpighi Hospital, University Alma Mater Studiorum, via Massarenti 9, 40138 Bologna, Italy. Tel.: +39 516364147; Fax: +39 516363080; E-mail:



This study investigates energy intake, macronutrient composition and habitual food choices in overweight/obese women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and controls similar for age and body mass index (BMI), and their relationship with hormonal and metabolic parameters.


Case–control study carried out in an academic hospital in Bologna, Italy.


One-hundred obese or overweight (BMI >25 kg/m2) women with PCOS, diagnosed according to Rotterdam criteria, and 100 age- and BMI-matched controls.


Dietary habits were investigated by means of the 7 days food diary. Fasting hormones and metabolic parameters were investigated in all subjects.


We showed that diet does not differ between the two groups as regards energy, macronutrient and advanced glycosylated end product intake, except for a lower percentage of energy from lipids and a higher intake of fibres by PCOS women. PCOS women were characterized by a higher consumption of cheese and high-glycaemic index starchy sweets and a preference for raw oil rather than other cooked fats, compared to controls. The PCOS or control status influenced some of the relationships between dietary components, food choices and metabolic parameters, particularly insulinAUC and HDL-cholesterol.


This study did not find major differences in dietary habits between PCOS and normoandrogenic control women. Our findings support the hypothesis that specific foods may influence metabolic and hormonal pattern and that this relationship may be differently regulated in PCOS and normoandrogenic women; however, they give little support to the hypothesis of a strong dependence of PCOS status on nutritional factors.