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Ann Nutr Metab. 2015;66(2-3):63-71. doi: 10.1159/000369979. Epub 2015 Jan 21.

Serum Visfatin and Leptin in Relation to Childhood Adiposity and Body Fat Distribution: The PIAMA Birth Cohort Study.

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Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences (IRAS), Division Environmental Epidemiology, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands.



Visfatin has been suggested as a marker of visceral adiposity. We hypothesized that visfatin, but not leptin, would be specifically associated with visceral adiposity. We investigated the relation of serum visfatin and leptin with measures of adiposity and body fat distribution in children.


Serum leptin and visfatin levels were measured in 1,022 12-year-old children participating in the PIAMA birth cohort. BMI, waist, hip and upper arm circumference were available for all children. Multiple linear regression analyses were conducted to study associations between different anthropometric indices and log serum visfatin and leptin levels.


All anthropometric indices showed positive and strong dose-response relationships with serum leptin. Visfatin was increased only in children with a high waist-to-hip ratio. The effect size was small compared to those observed for leptin and the association was present in overweight children (n = 133) but not in normal weight children.


Serum leptin levels strongly increased with increasing adiposity, but were not related to a specific type of fat distribution. In contrast, serum visfatin was associated only with high waist-to-hip ratio in overweight children. Based on our study we would currently not recommend visfatin as a marker of visceral adiposity in the general population of children.

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