, Volume 60, Issue 2, pp 339–347 | Cite as

Association of obesity and diabetes with thyroid nodules

  • Silvio BuscemiEmail author
  • Fatima Maria Massenti
  • Sonya Vasto
  • Fabio Galvano
  • Carola Buscemi
  • Davide Corleo
  • Anna Maria Barile
  • Giuseppe Rosafio
  • Nadia Rini
  • Carla Giordano
Original Article



There are conflicting data concerning the possibility that obesity and diabetes raise the risk of thyroid nodules. The incidence of thyroid nodules is increasing, as is that of obesity and diabetes; therefore, understanding whether these metabolic and nutritional disorders influence nodular thyroid disease is important for organizing prevention strategies. This study investigated the association between thyroid nodules, obesity, diabetes, and dietary habits.

Materials and methods

A cohort of randomly selected adults (455 males, 746 females; age: 18–90 years) living in Palermo (Italy), a mild iodine deficiency area, was cross-sectionally investigated. Participants underwent high-resolution ultrasonographic evaluation of the thyroid, and answered a food frequency questionnaire. Laboratory blood measurements were obtained in 587 participants.

Results and discussion

Thyroid nodules were detected in 475 (39.5%) participants. The number of thyroid nodules was correlated with age (r = 0.19; P < 0.001), gender (r = 0.08; P = 0.005), and body mass index (r = 0.07; P = 0.02). No significant correlation was observed between the number of nodules and glycated hemoglobin, serum insulin concentrations, and homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance. Age-adjusted and gender-adjusted prevalence of both overweight/obesity and type 2 diabetes of each group of participants divided according to the number of nodules significantly increased with the number of nodules (P < 0.05 in both cases). The group of participants with nodules exhibited a significantly lower age-adjusted and gender-adjusted habitual intake of milk (P = 0.02). Multivariate regression analysis showed that age, gender, body mass index, diabetes, and habitual consumption of milk were independently correlated with presence of thyroid nodules.


This study seems to indicate that an association exists between obesity, diabetes, and thyroid nodules.


Thyroid nodules Obesity Diabetes Milk Diet 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Ethics approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© European Union 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Silvio Buscemi
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author return OK on get
  • Fatima Maria Massenti
    • 3
  • Sonya Vasto
    • 4
  • Fabio Galvano
    • 5
  • Carola Buscemi
    • 1
    • 2
  • Davide Corleo
    • 1
    • 2
  • Anna Maria Barile
    • 1
    • 2
  • Giuseppe Rosafio
    • 1
    • 2
  • Nadia Rini
    • 1
    • 2
  • Carla Giordano
    • 1
    • 6
  1. 1.Dipartimento Biomedico di Medicina Interna e Specialistica (DIBIMIS) – University of Palermo (Italy)PalermoItaly
  2. 2.Laboratorio di Metabolismo e Nutrizione Clinica – AOU Policlinico “P. Giaccone”PalermoItaly
  3. 3.Dipartimento di Scienze per la Promozione della Salute e Materno Infantile – University of Palermo, (Italy) - AOU Policlinico “P. Giaccone”PalermoItaly
  4. 4.Dipartimento di Scienze e Tecnologie Biologiche, Chimiche e Farmaceutiche (STEBICEF), University of Palermo (Italy)PalermoItaly
  5. 5.Dipartimento di Scienze del Farmaco, University of Catania (Italy)CataniaItaly
  6. 6.Sezione di Malattie Cardio-Respiratorie ed Endocrino-MetabolicheRomaItaly

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