Telomere length is associated with obesity parameters but with a gender difference

Obesity (Silver Spring). 2008 Dec;16(12):2682-9. doi: 10.1038/oby.2008.413. Epub 2008 Sep 25.


Cardiovascular disease (CVD) and obesity have been coupled to short telomere length in peripheral blood. The biological background to this observation is not obvious from the literature. In this study we have analyzed a large set of known risk factors for CVD in relation to telomere length in blood cells on a merged cohort of 989 individuals recruited in the Malmö Diet and Cancer Cohort (MDCC) and the Northern Sweden MONICA project. We found a significant or borderline association between obesity parameters and telomere length in women after age and center adjustments (BMI: r = -0.106, P = 0.021, weight: r = -0.087, P = 0.060, waist circumference: r = -0.099, P = 0.032, hip circumference: r = -0.128, P = 0.005). In men, a positive borderline correlation to high-density lipoprotein (HDL) (r = 0.111, P = 0.053) and a negative correlation to 2-h post-oral glucose-tolerance test (OGTT) was observed (r = -0.202, P = 0.045). In neither group any association was found between telomere length and cholesterol, serum triglycerides, serum low-density lipoprotein, plasma insulin, blood pressure, pulse pressure, or smoking habits. Our data indicate that telomere length is associated with an "obesity-phenotype" but only in women.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / genetics*
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / genetics*
  • Sex Factors
  • Sweden
  • Telomere*
  • Triglycerides / blood
  • Waist Circumference


  • Insulin
  • Triglycerides
  • Cholesterol