Association between obesity and iron deficiency (Review)

Exp Ther Med. 2021 Nov;22(5):1268. doi: 10.3892/etm.2021.10703. Epub 2021 Sep 7.


Obesity is a risk factor for several comorbidities and complications, including iron deficiency anemia. Iron deficiency anemia is a serious global public health problem, with a worldwide prevalence. The high prevalence of obesity in combination with iron deficiency incidence observed in different age and sex categories suggests an association between obesity and iron status. Obesity may disrupt iron homeostasis, resulting in iron deficiency anemia. The association between obesity and iron deficiency may be due to increased hepcidin levels mediated by chronic inflammation. Hepcidin is a small peptide hormone that functions as a negative regulator of intestinal iron absorption. Significant body weight loss in overweight and obese individuals decreases chronic inflammation and serum hepcidin levels, resulting in improved iron status due to increased iron absorption. However, further randomized controlled trials are required to confirm this effect.

Keywords: anemia; chronic inflammation; hepcidin; iron deficiency; obesity; weight loss.

Publication types

  • Review

Grants and funding

Funding: No funding was received.