Durk Pearson & Sandy Shaw’s®
Life Extension NewsTM
Volume 14 No. 4 • September 2011

Iron Deficiency in Obese Mexican Women and Children—
Association with Inflammation But Not Iron Intake

Another interesting link between inflammation and disease risk was reported in a recent paper.1 The authors studied why obese individuals may be at increased risk of iron deficiency and found (using data from the 1999 Mexican Nutrition Survey) that the risk of iron deficiency in obese Mexican women and children was 2–4 times that of normal-weight individuals at similar dietary intakes of iron. However, their data reported that CRP (C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation) concentrations in obese women and children were 4 times those of their normal weight counterparts and that CRP (but NOT iron intake) was a strong negative predictor of iron status, independently of BMI (body mass index).

Though the study was cross-sectional, not longitudinal, so that cause and effect could not be determined (from these data), nevertheless the authors propose a possible mechanism for the link between inflammation and iron deficiency: “[I]n obesity, increased proinflammatory cytokines, such as leptin, interleukin- 6, and CRP, may stimulate hepcidin production by the liver and adipose tissue. Hepcidin excess has been suggested to decrease dietary iron absorption ... Moreover, lipocalin-2, an iron-binding protein upregulated by inflammation, might also be responsible for iron sequestration within the adipocytes.”1


  1. Cepeda-Lopez et al. Sharply higher rates of iron deficiency in obese Mexican women and children are predicted by obesity-related inflammation rather than by differences in dietary iron intake. Am J Clin Nutr 93:975-83 (2011).

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