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Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 1999 Feb;23(2):146-50.

Leptin and total cholesterol are predictors of weight gain in pre-pubertal children.

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Department of Endocrinology, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Camperdown NSW, Australia.



The aim of this study was to identify specifically which biochemical indices predict excessive weight gain over time in a cohort of pre-pubertal children.


Fifty nine healthy pre-pubertal children (age: 6.3-9.8y).


Children were defined anthropometrically and biochemically at baseline. Height and weight measurements were then repeated after six (n=52) and 12 months (n=37).


Weight change after six months (defined by a change in body mass index (BMI) z-score from baseline) demonstrated no correlation with fasting plasma levels of leptin, insulin, insulin:glucose (IG) ratio, cholesterol, triglyceride or high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. However, after 12 months there was a significant negative correlation between BMI z-score change and initial plasma leptin (r=-0.35, P=0.048) and this relationship strengthened when adjusted for body fat (from bio-electrical impedance; r=-0.46, P=0.009). In addition, there was a significant positive relationship between plasma total cholesterol and BMI z score change (r=0.38, P=0.03) and this relationship remained unchanged when adjusted for body fat. No relationship was observed between weight change after 12 months and plasma levels of insulin, IG ratio, HDL cholesterol or triglyceride.


Plasma leptin and total cholesterol were found to be predictive of weight gain over 12 months in a cohort of pre-pubertal children. These two potential predictors can be readily measured in clinical practice and these findings may represent a method of defining the 'at risk of obesity' state in childhood.

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