Iron Deficiency in Obese Postmenopausal Women


Division of Endocrinology (8a planta centro), Hospital General Vall d'Hebron, Passeig Vall d'Hebron, 119-129, 08035 Barcelona, Spain E-mail:


Objective: This study evaluates whether the iron deficiency suggested in children and adolescents with overweight is also present with increasing age.

Research Methods and Procedures: We examined 50 consecutive postmenopausal nondiabetic white women with a BMI ≥30 kg/m2 and 50 non-obese seemingly healthy women as a control group. In addition to the traditional indices of iron status, we measured the soluble transferrin receptor (sTfR) levels, a sensitive and highly quantitative indicator of early iron deficiency not influenced by the acute phase response.

Results: Obese women have higher serum sTfR levels than control subjects [1.38 (range, 0.89 to 2.39) vs. 1.16 mg/dL (range, 0.69 to 2.03 mg/dL); p < 0.001]. However, no difference in ferritin concentration was observed between the groups [70.50 (range, 18 to 219) vs. 69.50 ng/mL (range, 24 to 270 ng/mL); p = not significant]. A positive correlation between BMI and sTfR concentration was detected. On multiple regression analyses, BMI (positively) and ferritin (inversely) were independent predictors accounting for sTfR.

Discussion: These results suggest that a moderate degree of iron deficiency is also present among adult women with obesity. The determination of sTfR is useful in the evaluation of iron status in this condition. Further studies with a greater number of patients are required to investigate the relationship between tissue iron concentrations and obesity.