Previous research suggests that reduced levels of the hormone estrogen during menopause are responsible for the increased body weight and abdominal fat, nights sweats, hot flashes etc. often experienced by postmenopausal women. However, while estrogen replacement therapies can reduce weight gain, they also have unwelcome side effects, prompting a search for alternative methods of treatment. Soy naturally contains estrogen-like compounds called phytoestrogens, and so dietary soy may provide an alternative to typical estrogen replacement therapies. Michelle Murphy from the Monell Chemical Senses Center found decreased body weight and increased energy expenditure in post-menopausal rats after adding soy phytoestrogens to their regular diet. She comments, "These results have implications for the development of alternative natural treatments for obesity in post-menopausal women." The results of this study highlight the need for further research into the actions of phytoestrogens on food intake in humans to determine the more long-term effects of consuming a soy-rich diet. "In this world of an ever-increasing obesity epidemic, finding natural dietary solutions and treatments to combat obesity are of the utmost importance both to worldwide health and economy," says Murphy.