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PLoS One. 2014 Apr 17;9(4):e95235. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0095235. eCollection 2014.

The Association of Serum Total Peptide YY (PYY) with Obesity and Body Fat Measures in the CODING Study.

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  • 1Faculty of Medicine, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada.
  • 2Faculty of Medicine, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada; Discipline of Laboratory Medicine, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada.



PYY is an appetite suppressing hormone. Low circulating PYY has been linked to greater BMI. However data is controversial and this association has not been verified in large human populations.


The purpose of this study was to investigate if fasting serum total PYY is associated with obesity status and/or adiposity at the population level.


A total of 2094 subjects (Male-523, Female-1571) participated in this investigation. Total PYY was measured in fasting serum by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Obesity status (NW-normal-weight, OW-overweight and OB-obese) was determined by the Bray Criteria according to body fat percentage measured by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry and the WHO criteria according to BMI. One-way ANOVA and multiple regression was used to assess the adiposity-specific association between PYY and the following; weight, BMI, waist-circumference, hip-circumference, waist-hip ratio, percent body fat (%BF), trunk fat (%TF), android fat (%AF) and gynoid fat (%GF).


PYY was not significantly different among NW, OW and OB groups defined by neither %BF nor BMI for both men and women. However among women, fasting PYY was positively associated with adiposity measures. Women with the highest (Top 33%) waist-circumference, %BF and %TF had significantly higher PYY (10.5%, 8.3% and 9.2% respectively) than women with the lowest (Bottom 33%). Age, smoking, medication use and menopause were all positively associated with PYY levels in women but not in men.


To our knowledge this is the largest population based study, with the most comprehensive analysis and measures of confounding factors, to explore the relationship of circulating PYY with obesity. Contrary to initial findings in the literature we discovered that PYY was positively associated with body fat measures (waist-circumference, %BF and %TF) in women. Although the effect size of the positive association of PYY with obesity in women is small, and potentially negligible, it may in fact represent a protective response against significant weight gain.

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