Iron in obesity. An ancient micronutrient for a modern disease

C. Zafon, A. Lecube, R. Simó

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

71 Citations (Scopus)


Iron is a necessary constituent of several macromolecules involved in cell metabolism, but, at the same time, it could be a potentially dangerous element. For this reason iron balance must be finely regulated. At present, obesity has been recognized as a worldwide public health problem. Excess body fat is associated with increased all-cause mortality and increased risk for several medical morbidities. Many studies have shown that obesity might increase the risk of iron deficiency but, at the same time, obese subjects exhibit high serum ferritin levels. Recent studies seem to indicate that obesity is associated with iron deficiency although the aetiology appears to be multifactorial and includes (i) A decrease in iron food intake; (ii) An impairment of intestinal iron uptake and iron release from stores because of an overexpression of hepcidin and (iii) Inadequate iron bioavailability because of inflammation. In addition, abnormal ferritin concentrations can be explained by chronic inflammation rather than by iron overload. The aim of the present article is to review current knowledge of iron and obesity. © 2009 International Association for the Study of Obesity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)322-328
JournalObesity Reviews
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2010


  • Ferritin and insulin resistance
  • Iron metabolism
  • Obesity


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