Stearoyl-coenzyme A desaturase-1 (SCD1) is a key enzyme in fatty acid and energy metabolism. Increased hepatic SCD1 activity is associated with obesity and obesity-related diseases. We examined the relations of two plasma SCD activity indices (16:1n-7/16:0, 18:1n-9/18:0) with body composition, and the association of lifestyle and dietary variables with the plasma SCD indices.

Design and Methods:

This population-based, cross-sectional study of 2021 elderly (71–74 y) men and women from the Hordaland Health Study in Western Norway was conducted using a validated food frequency questionnaire, body composition measurements by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry and determination of the plasma fatty acid profile.


In multivariate regression analyses, plasma SCD indices were positively associated with BMI and body fat (P < 0.001 for both). From the 2.5th to 97.5th percentiles of plasma SCD-16 and SCD-18 indices, fat mass differed by about 8 kg and 5 kg, respectively. Intake of polyunsaturated fatty acids were negatively associated with SCD-16 (partial r = −0.30) and SCD-18 (partial r = −0.24) (P < 0.001 for both). Alcohol intake was positively associated with SCD-16 (partial r = 0.26) and SCD-18 (partial r = 0.16) (P < 0.001 for both), whereas coffee consumption and physical activity were inversely associated with SCD-16 (P = 0.026 and P = 0.006, respectively) and SCD-18 (P = 0.001 and P = 0.022, respectively).


In this elderly population, plasma markers of SCD1 activity are associated with increased adiposity. Furthermore, modifiable dietary habits and lifestyle are associated with plasma SCD indices. These results suggest that SCD1 activity may be a promising target for weight control.