The adipokine profile of metabolically benign obese and at-risk normal weight postmenopausal women: the women’s health initiative observational study

Document Type



Family Medicine


Objectives: Nearly, a third of obese individuals, termed metabolically benign obese, have a low burden of adiposity-related cardiometabolic abnormalities, whereas a substantial proportion of normal-weight individuals possess risk factors.
Methods: In cross-sectional analyses of 699 normal weight and 1,294 overweight/obese postmenopausal women enrolled in a nested case-control stroke study ancillary to the Women's Health Initiative Observational Study, we compared levels of adiponectin, leptin, and resistin among metabolically benign normal weight, at-risk normal weight, metabolically benign obese, and at-risk obese women using components of the ATP III definition of the metabolic syndrome (metabolically benign: ≤1 of the four components; at-risk phenotype: ≥2 components or diabetes).
Results: Overall, 382/699 normal-weight women (54.6%) and 328/1,194 overweight/obese women (27.5%) were metabolically benign. Among normal-weight women, at-risk women had higher leptin and lower adiponectin levels compared to metabolically benign women; multivariate-adjusted odds ratios were significant for having leptin (OR: 2.51; 95% CI: 1.28-5.01) and resistin (1.46; 1.03-2.07) in the top tertile and adiponectin in the bottom tertile (2.64; 1.81-3.84). Compared to metabolically benign overweight/obese women, at-risk obese women had higher odds of having leptin in the top tertile (1.62; 1.24-2.12) and adiponectin in the bottom tertile (2.78; 2.04-3.77).
Conclusions: Overall, metabolically benign overweight/obese women had an intermediate adipokine profile (between at-risk obese and metabolically benign normal-weight women), whereas at-risk normal-weight women had a less favorable profile compared to metabolically benign normal-weight women. As adiponectin was the only adipokine independent of BMI, it may be most likely to have a role in the etiological pathway of these phenotypes.


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.


Obesity (Silver Spring)

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.