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Int J Obes. 1990 Apr;14(4):293-302.

Associations between regional body fat distribution, fasting plasma free fatty acid levels and glucose tolerance in premenopausal women.

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  • 1Physical Activity Sciences Laboratory, Laval University, Ste-Foy, Quebec, Canada.


The associations between total adiposity, body fat distribution measured by computed tomography (CT) and estimated by the waist-to-hip ratio (WHR), regional fat cell morphology, fasting plasma free fatty acid (FFA) levels and glucose tolerance were studied in a sample of 37 premenopausal women aged 35.3 +/- 4.6 years (mean +/- s.d.). Body fat mass, CT-derived abdominal and femoral fat areas, as well as the abdominal fat cell weight were all significantly associated with fasting plasma FFA levels (0.34 less than r less than 0.49, 0.005 less than P less than 0.05), and with the glucose and insulin areas during the oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) (0.36 less than r less than 0.70, 0.0001 less than P less than 0.05). No associations were found between the WHR, the femoral fat cell weight and fasting plasma FFA levels or glucose area during the OGTT. However, the WHR and the femoral fat cell weight were positively associated with insulin area. Plasma FFA levels were positively correlated with the glucose area during the OGTT, whereas no association was found between plasma FFA levels and the insulin area. Covariance analysis indicated that this effect of plasma FFA levels on the magnitude of glucose response to OGTT was independent from that of total adiposity or regional body fat distribution variables. These results emphasize the importance of plasma FFA levels as a correlate of glucose tolerance and suggest that the associations previously reported between obesity, regional body fat distribution, fat cell size and glucose tolerance are, at least partly, mediated by variations in plasma FFA levels.

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