Fish-rich diet, leptin, and body mass

Circulation. 2002 Jul 16;106(3):289-91. doi: 10.1161/01.cir.0000025241.01418.4d.


Background: Leptin has been implicated in cardiovascular disease. A diet rich in fish has been associated with decreased cardiac and vascular risk.

Methods and results: We examined the relationship between diet and leptin in 2 related homogeneous African tribal populations of Tanzania. One tribe consumes freshwater fish as their main diet component (n=279), and the other tribe consumes a primarily vegetarian diet (n=329). In multivariate analysis, plasma leptin levels were associated with type of diet (F=14.3, P<0.001), independent of age, body mass index, body fat, alcohol consumption, or insulin. Both male (2.5+/-2 [fish diet] versus 11.2+/-2.4 [vegetarian diet] ng/mL, P=0.017) and female (5.0+/-1.9 [fish diet] versus 11.8+/-1.4 [vegetarian diet] ng/mL, P=0.007) fish eaters had lower plasma leptin levels than did their vegetable diet counterparts, even though body mass index values were virtually identical.

Conclusions: A diet rich in fish is associated with lower plasma leptin, independent of body fat. These findings may have implications for understanding the reduced cardiovascular risk in subjects on a high-fish diet.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diet*
  • Diet, Vegetarian
  • Female
  • Fishes*
  • Fresh Water
  • Humans
  • Leptin / blood*
  • Male
  • Risk Factors
  • Tanzania


  • Leptin