Serum leptin concentrations and body adipose measures in older black and white adults

Constance E. Ruhl, James E. Everhart, Jingzhong Ding, Bret H. Goodpaster, Alka M. Kanaya, Eleanor M. Simonsick, Frances A. Tylavsky, Tamara B. Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Background: Among US adults, serum leptin concentrations are higher in women than in men and are higher in blacks than in whites independent of anthropometric measures of body fatness. Objective: Using radiographic measures of body fat, we determined the best correlates of leptin and whether adiposity can explain sex and race differences in leptin concentrations in older adults. Design: This was a cross-sectional analysis of fasting serum leptin concentrations and body fat measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA), abdominal computed tomography, and standard anthropometry in 3026 well-functioning 70-79-y-old participants (42% black, 51% women) of the Health, Aging, and Body Composition Study. Results: Geometric mean (±SE) leptin concentrations (ng/mL) were higher in the women than in the men (16.5 ± 0.3 and 5.7 ± 0.1, respectively) and in the black women than in the white women (20.2 ± 0.6 and 13.9 ± 0.4, respectively), but did not differ significantly between the white and black men (5.8 ± 0.2 and 5.5 ± 0.2, respectively). Percentage fat estimated from DXA showed the highest correlation with leptin (R2 = 0.56 for both sexes). Addition of abdominal visceral fat minimally increased the correlation. In the multivariate analysis, the association with sex was eliminated after adjustment for percentage fat and visceral fat in both whites (P = 0.051) and blacks (P = 0.34). Among women, higher leptin concentrations in blacks remained after adjustment for percentage fat and visceral fat (mean race difference = 4.95 ng/mL; P < 0.001). Among men, an association with black race emerged after adjustment for these factors (mean race difference = 1.42 ng/mL; P < 0.001). Conclusions: Among older adults, higher serum leptin concentrations in women are explained by a greater percentage of body fat. Higher leptin concentrations in blacks are not explained by percentage of body fat.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)576-583
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Anthropometry
  • Body composition
  • Computed tomography
  • Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry
  • Epidemiology
  • Health ABC Study
  • Health, Aging, and Body Composition Study
  • Leptin
  • Race

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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