OA Epidemiology

BMI is Associated with Shorter Telomere Length: A Meta-Analysis of Observational Studies

Proceedings of the 2013 annual meeting of the Netherlands Epidemiology Society

Volume 1 Issue S1 Abstract 19


M. Gielen, NUTRIM School for Nutrition, Toxicology and Metabolism, Maastricht University
G. Hageman, NUTRIM School for Nutrition, Toxicology and Metabolism, Maastricht University
E. Antoniou, Department of Clinical Psychological Science, Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience, Maastricht University
M. Zeegers, Department of Complex Genetics, Cluster of Genetics and Cell Biology, Maastricht University

Shorter telomeres are associated with age-related diseases such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Obesity is a risk factor for these diseases. Although many studies have collected information on obesity and telomere length (TL), few have published on the association between TL and obesity with conflicting results.

To resolve whether BMI is truly associated with TL, a meta-analysis of observational studies which collected data on BMI and TL in adult individuals is conducted.
Per included study, 3 linear regression analyses were performed: for the total group and for
males and females separately. Study specific betas were combined using a random-effects pooling. Considered sources of heterogeneity at study level are: ethnicity, cell type, TL measurement, BMI measurement, study design.

Fifty six unique cohorts were identified. Data of 18.859 individuals from 19 studies were analyzed in this meta-analysis. The results of absolute (bp) and relative (T/S ratio) TL measurements showed the same trend. Per unit BMI increase TL decreased with -4.79 bp (C.I.: -7.03 - -2.56); in men -0.01 bp (C.I.: -3.19 - 3.18); in women -5.31 (C.I.: -7.82 - -2.80).

These preliminary results show that a higher BMI is associated with shorter TL, which  is mainly due to the contribution of women. A difference of 10 units BMI (e.g. 20 vs. 30) is related to a decrease of 50 bp. Given an average annual decrease of ± 35 bp this is a relevant difference. Further research is needed to explore the difference between men and women.

Published: 06 Jun, 2013

Licensee OA Publishing London 2013. Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY)