South African Journal of Clinical Nutrition

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The relationship between obesity, leptin, adiponectin and the components of metabolic syndrome in urban African women, Free State, South Africa

Sanet van Zyl, Lynette J. van der Merwe, Francois C. van Rooyen, Gina Joubert, Corinna M. Walsh


Objectives: Obesity prevalence is increasing worldwide. In South Africa, older and urbanised African women have significantly higher rates of obesity. Limited information is available on the relationship between anthropometric parameters, adipokines and metabolic health status of African women. This study investigated the relationship between obesity, adipokines and the components of metabolic syndrome in urban African women.

Methods: This study included 135 urban African women that were 26–63 years of age, identified with metabolic syndrome in the urban leg of the Assuring Health for All in the Free State (AHA-FS) study. To establish anthropometric status, the following measures were taken: body weight, height and waist circumference. Blood was drawn to determine leptin, adiponectin levels and metabolic status.

Results: Adiponectin levels in obese women were significantly decreased compared to normal weight women. Leptin levels and leptin:adiponectin ratios (L:A) were increased in the obese group compared to the overweight and normal weight groups. Leptin and L:A showed strong positive correlations with body mass index and waist circumference. Adiponectin levels decreased as the number of components of metabolic syndrome increased. The L:A ratio was significantly lower in women with elevated triglycerides and significantly higher in women with elevated blood glucose levels. Adiponectin levels were significantly lower in women with elevated blood glucose.

Conclusion: This study confirms the inverse relationship between adiponectin and leptin with increased body adiposity. Results indicate that waist circumference, fasting blood glucose and triglyceride levels are the metabolic syndrome components most closely associated with altered adiponectin and leptin levels and L:A in urban African women with metabolic syndrome.

Keywords: adipokines, adiponectin, components of metabolic syndrome, leptin, L:A ratio, obesity
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