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Weight and Wellness Center

Effect of Caloric Restriction and Aging on Inflammation and Iron Status

The Weight and Wellness Center finalized work on a study with the Division of Nutrition at Tufts Medical Center and the Tufts University Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging which aimed to determine how weight loss may affect inflammation and iron levels.

The study looked at the effect of weight loss through caloric restriction on iron status, inflammation and hepcidin levels in young and older women with obesity.  The obesity epidemic has affected populations worldwide, causing a serious threat to health in these populations by increasing risk of chronic disease.  Iron deficiency is among the newly encountered complications of obesity.  Hepcidin is a hormone-like peptide that regulates iron absorption and circulation in the blood, and is induced by iron overload, inflammation and infection.

Evidence suggests that the state of chronic inflammation present in obesity causes chronic hepcidin overexpression, increasing risk of iron deficiency. Studies in young and older adults are needed to further explore this mechanism and determine the effect of aging, which is also characterized by chronic inflammation, on this process.

This study explored this concept via caloric restriction in young and older women with obesity. The study subjects were women with obesity, either 18-45 years or older than 60 years who were participants in weight loss programs at the WWC.  Blood samples were collected at baseline and 12 to 16 weeks after caloric restriction. Iron status and immune response were measured before and after weight loss, in both age groups.

The manuscript for the study has been submitted and is in the process of being published.