Association of serum ferritin and indices of body fat distribution and obesity in Mexican American men--the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey

Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2001 May;25(5):639-45. doi: 10.1038/sj.ijo.0801561.


Background: Few data have been published on the association of indices of body fat distribution and serum ferritin, an indicator of body iron stores and putative risk factor for cardiovascular morbidity, in representative samples of total populations or in Hispanic Americans.

Objective: To describe the distributions of serum ferritin concentration and waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) in Mexican American men and to assess their association.

Design: Cross-sectional survey of a large national sample, the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

Participants: Mexican American men aged 20-49 y.

Measurements: Body circumferences, skinfold thickness, height, weight, and serum ferritin and C-reactive protein concentrations.

Results: Mean serum ferritin increased between ages 20 and 29 but not between 30 and 49. WHR increased with age between ages 20 and 49. WHR showed significant positive associations with log serum ferritin concentration independent of age and body mass index (BMI). The association was strongest at age 20-29 y among those with BMI below the median. Associations with other indices of body fat distribution and overall obesity are described.

Conclusion: Serum ferritin concentration is associated with WHR and other indices of body fat distribution and obesity. Further research is needed to elucidate the mechanisms and significance of these findings.

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / anatomy & histology*
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aging / blood
  • Body Composition
  • Body Constitution
  • C-Reactive Protein / analysis
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Ferritins / blood*
  • Health Status Indicators*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mexican Americans / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Obesity / blood*
  • Obesity / etiology
  • Risk Factors


  • C-Reactive Protein
  • Ferritins