Muscle fibre type and aetiology of obesity

Lancet. 1990 Apr 7;335(8693):805-8. doi: 10.1016/0140-6736(90)90933-v.


Proportions of slow (type 1) muscle fibres of the vastus lateralis and percentage body fat were measured in 11 healthy sedentary men. The proportion of slow muscle fibres was inversely related to fatness; at least 40% of the variability in fatness may be related to variation in muscle fibre type. Metabolic evidence in 50 men, provided by the respiratory exchange ratio (RER) during cycle ergometry, indicated that fatter men (or, in the subset of 11 men, those with a low proportion of slow muscle fibres) combusted less fat during work at 100 W than did lean men (or those with a high proportion of slow fibres). The effects of fitness and of body size were excluded in the analysis. The evidence supports the hypothesis that muscle fibre type is an aetiological factor for obesity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anthropometry
  • Biopsy, Needle
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscles / analysis
  • Muscles / metabolism*
  • Muscles / pathology
  • Obesity / etiology*
  • Oxygen Consumption*
  • Physical Exertion
  • Pilot Projects
  • Regression Analysis
  • Skinfold Thickness
  • Ventilation-Perfusion Ratio


  • Fatty Acids