BACKGROUND - Leptin is strongly associated with adiposity and few studies have investigated its role in Mexican-Americans. The aims of this study were to examine the association of serum leptin concentration with adiposity and body fat distribution in Mexican-Americans and to develop a predictive model of serum leptin concentration for this ethnic group.
METHODS - Three hundred fifty-two college students (242 women, 110 men; age 18-30 years) were evaluated in this cross-sectional study. Body fat content was assessed using bioelectrical impedance analysis. Correlation between serum leptin levels and several markers of adiposity and body fat distribution were examined in both men and women. Multiple regression analysis was performed to create the predictive model.
RESULTS - Women had higher serum leptin concentrations than men for the same levels of adiposity. After controlling for gender and body fat, only fat mass (FM) expressed in kg, was significantly correlated with serum leptin concentration in men (partial rho = 0.811, p <0.001), whereas body mass index (BMI), hip circumference (HC), and FM expressed in kg, were significantly correlated with serum leptin concentration in women (partial rho = 0.214, p <0.001; partial rho = 0.201, p <0.01; and partial rho = 0.818, p <0.001, respectively). Percent body fat (PBF) was the only significant predictor of serum leptin concentration among men, explaining 42% of the variance in serum leptin concentration. In addition to PBF, waist circumference (WC) and HC were significant predictors of serum leptin concentration among women explaining 65% of the variance in serum leptin concentration.
CONCLUSIONS - Serum leptin concentration is a function of adiposity as determined by PBF in both Mexican-American men and women. HC and WC are associated with serum leptin concentration in Mexican-American women but not in men. BMI alone should not be used in evaluating the association of serum leptin concentration with body fatness in Mexican-Americans.