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Acta Paediatr. 2008 Jul;97(7):952-4. doi: 10.1111/j.1651-2227.2008.00783.x.

Telomere length and obesity.

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Department of Pediatrics, Obstetrics and Reproductive Medicine, Section of Pediatrics, Policlinico Le Scotte, University of Siena, Siena, Italy.



To assess the telomere length in apparently healthy obese and normal-weight subjects.


Seventy-six Caucasian subjects were chosen including 53 children (age 8.2+/-3.5 years) and 23 adults (age 40.5+/-8.4 years). Among these, 22 (12 children and 10 adults) were obese with a body mass index (BMI, kg/m2)>2 SD above the norm. Bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA), measured with a multiple frequency analyzer, was used to estimate body composition. DNA extraction from white blood cells was used to estimate the telomere length by detection of terminal restriction fragments (TRF).


No difference was found between the TRF lengths of obese and normal children. Obese adults had shorter TRF lengths than adults who were not obese (mean TRF length difference, -884.5; 95% confidence intervals -1727 to -41.8; t=2.183; df=17; p<0.041).


Obese adults have shorter telomeres than their normal-weight counterparts, while this phenomenon is not present in childhood.

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