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Thyroid axis alterations in childhood obesity.

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Department of Pediatric Diabetes and Obesity, Poznan University of Medical Sciences, Poland.


In recent years researchers have become increasingly interested in the particular relation between the function of the thyroid gland and the body mass in the population of obese children. Numerous studies have been conducted and the literature on the related issues has been abounding. Several thereof have strived at pinpointing a significant link between the function of the thyroid axis and the body mass. Yet, it still remains to be clarified whether these subtle changes in the level of thyroid hormones and TSH observed in childhood obesity are responsible for the increased body mass or rather they represent a secondary phenomenon. The mechanism most often put forward by the researchers that links obesity to thyroid function is the increased level of leptin, which affects neurones in the hypothalamus and the thyroid axis causing TRH and TSH secretion. The body mass is positively correlated with serum leptin and elevated level of leptin is connected with an increase in TSH level. However, there is still controversy whether these inconspicuous differences observed in thyroid axis merit the treatment with thyroxine since these changes seem to constitute a consequence rather than a cause of obesity. Therefore, as most authors postulate, primary importance should be placed on lifestyle changes and body weight reduction leaving substitutive treatment as a supplementary option. The purpose of this review is to present the most current issues on child obesity and the related malfunction of the thyroid axis through an overview of international publications from the years 1996-2011.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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