Inflammation profile in overweight/obese adolescents in Europe: an analysis in relation to iron status

Eur J Clin Nutr. 2015 Feb;69(2):247-55. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2014.154. Epub 2014 Sep 10.


Background/objectives: The objectives of this study were to investigate the relationship between inflammatory parameters (CRP, c-reactive protein; AGP, α1-acid glycoprotein), iron status indicators (SF, serum ferritin; sTfR, soluble transferrin receptor) and body mass index (BMI) z-score, fat-free mass (FFM) and fat mass (FM) in European adolescents. Differences in intake for some nutrients (total iron, haem and non-haem iron, vitamin C, calcium, proteins) were assessed according to BMI categories, and the association of nutrient intakes with BMI z-score, FM and FFM was evaluated.

Methods: A total of 876 adolescents participating in the Healthy Lifestyle in Europe by Nutrition in Adolescence-Cross Sectional Study were included in the study sample.

Results: Mean CRP values (standard error; s.e.) were significantly higher in overweight/obese adolescents (1.7±0.3 and 1.4±0.3 mg/l in boys and girls, respectively) than in thin/normal-weight adolescents (1.1±0.2 and 1.0±0.1 mg/l in boys and girls, respectively) (P<0.05). For boys, mean SF values (s.e.) were significantly higher in overweight/obese adolescents (46.9±2.7 μg/l) than in thin/normal-weight adolescents (35.7±1.7 μg/l) (P<0.001), whereas median sTfR values did not differ among BMI categories for both boys and girls. Multilevel regression analyses showed that BMI z-score and FM were significantly related to CRP and AGP (P<0.05). Dietary variables did not differ significantly among BMI categories, except for the intake of vegetable proteins, which, for boys, was higher in thin/normal-weight adolescents than in overweight/obese adolescents (P<0.05).

Conclusions: The adiposity of the European adolescents was sufficient to cause chronic inflammation but not sufficient to impair iron status and cause iron deficiency.

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism*
  • Adiposity
  • Adolescent
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency* / blood
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency* / etiology
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Body Mass Index*
  • C-Reactive Protein / metabolism*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage
  • Europe
  • Female
  • Ferritins / blood
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / blood
  • Inflammation / etiology*
  • Iron / deficiency*
  • Male
  • Nutritional Status
  • Obesity / blood
  • Obesity / complications*
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Orosomucoid / metabolism
  • Overweight
  • Sex Factors
  • Transferrin / metabolism


  • Biomarkers
  • Dietary Proteins
  • Orosomucoid
  • Transferrin
  • C-Reactive Protein
  • Ferritins
  • Iron