Independent and combined effects of dietary weight loss and exercise on leukocyte telomere length in postmenopausal women

Obesity (Silver Spring). 2013 Dec;21(12):E549-54. doi: 10.1002/oby.20509. Epub 2013 Jul 29.


Objective: Investigate the effects of 12 months of dietary weight loss and/or aerobic exercise on leukocyte telomere length in postmenopausal women.

Design and methods: Four hundred and thirty nine overweight or obese women (50-75 years) were randomized to: (i) dietary weight loss (N = 118); (ii) aerobic exercise (N = 117), (iii) diet + exercise (N = 117), or (iv) control (N = 87). The diet intervention was a group-based program with a 10% weight loss goal. The exercise intervention was 45 min day(-1) , 5 days week(-1) of moderate-to-vigorous aerobic activity. Fasting blood samples were taken at baseline and 12 months. DNA was extracted from isolated leukocytes and telomere length was measured by quantitative-polymerase chain reaction (qPCR). Mean changes were compared between groups (intent-to-treat) using generalized estimating equations.

Results: Baseline telomere length was inversely associated with age (r = -0.12 P < 0.01) and positively associated with maximal oxygen uptake (r = 0.11, P = 0.03), but not with BMI or %body fat. Change in telomere length was inversely correlated with baseline telomere length (r = -0.47, P < 0.0001). No significant difference in leukocyte telomere length was detected in any intervention group compared to controls, nor was the magnitude of weight loss associated with telomere length at 12 months.

Conclusions: Twelve months of dietary weight loss and exercise did not change telomere length in postmenopausal women.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue
  • Aged
  • Body Mass Index
  • Diet, Reducing*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leukocytes / metabolism*
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / blood
  • Obesity / therapy
  • Overweight / blood
  • Overweight / therapy
  • Postmenopause / blood*
  • Telomere / metabolism*
  • Weight Loss / physiology*