Obesity and iron metabolism
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Obesity and overweight have become a global problem affecting not only high income countries but also developing countries. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) more than 1 billion adults are overweight and at least 300 million of them are obese. Experimental and clinical studies indicate that there is a relationship between iron metabolism and weight status. Iron deficiency is significantly more prevalent among obese individuals compared to non-obese ones. Adipose tissue produces many pro-inflammatory cytokines (interleukin-1, interleukin- 6, tumor necrosis factor-?) and adipokines (leptin, adiponectin, resistin) that influence iron homeostasis. According to recent studies, hepcidin, the main regulator of iron metabolism, can also be synthesized by the adipocytes. Development of iron deficiency among obese and overweight children has potentially harmful effects, which can lead to behavioral and learning problems as well as lowered resistance to infections. For this reason, screening for iron status among children with elevated BMI should be recommended.
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Ewa Zekanowska, Department of Pathophysiology, Ludwik Rydygier Collegium Medicum in Bydgoszcz, Nicolaus Copernicus University in Torun, Poland