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Eur J Nutr. 2010 Mar;49(2):83-90. doi: 10.1007/s00394-009-0052-8. Epub 2009 Aug 29.

Dietary sucrose intake is related to serum leptin concentration in overweight pregnant women.

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  • 1Functional Foods Forum, University of Turku, Turku, Finland.



Overweight, characterized by low-degree systemic inflammation, predisposes women to impaired glucose metabolism during pregnancy. Adipokine leptin participates in the regulation of energy balance and immune action.


Objective of the study was to evaluate if aberrations in glucose metabolism during pregnancy are related to leptin concentration and whether serum leptin concentration is affected by diet composition.


Normal-weight (n = 61) and overweight or obese (BMI > 25, n = 42) pregnant women visited study clinic at third trimester of pregnancy and one month postpartum. Serum fasting leptin and insulin as well as plasma glucose concentrations were measured, insulin resistance (HOMA) and sensitivity (QUICKI) calculated, and dietary intake from food records determined.


In overweight women leptin concentration was significantly higher both in pregnancy, 45.27 (95% CI 39.40-51.14) ng/ml, and postpartum, 31.84 (27.38-36.30) ng/ml, than in normal-weight women, 31.09 (95% CI 27.80-34.37) ng/ml and 16.23 (13.93-18.53) ng/ml, respectively. Equally, blood glucose concentration during pregnancy was higher, 4.82 (4.67-4.97)mmol/l, and insulin concentration, 15.34 (12.00-18.68) mU/l, more pronounced in overweight compared to normal-weight women, 4.51 (4.42-4.61) mmol/l and 8.28 (7.21-9.36) mU/l, respectively. Significantly higher HOMA and lower QUICKI were also detected in overweight compared to normal-weight women. At third trimester of pregnancy, leptin concentration correlated positively with insulin concentration in normal-weight (r = 0.561, P = 0.002) and overweight women (r = 0.736, P < 0.001), as well as with HOMA (r = 0.568, P = 0.002 and r = 0.731, P < 0.001, respectively) whereas negative association was found with QUICKI in normal-weight (r = -0.484, P = 0.011) and overweight women (r = -0.711, P < 0.001). Importantly, serum leptin concentration was affected by dietary sucrose intake both as quantitatively (r = 0.424, P = 0.009) and relative to energy intake (r = 0.408, P = 0.012) in overweight but not in normal-weight pregnant women.


Overweight-related elevation in serum leptin is associated with impaired regulation of glucose metabolism during pregnancy. The novel finding that dietary sucrose intake is related to serum leptin concentration is in line with the current dietary recommendations to overweight pregnant women with impaired glucose metabolism advising the lower intake of sucrose during pregnancy.

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