Dietary Intervention Causes Redistribution of Zinc in Obese Adolescents


Obese people tend to have low zinc circulation levels; this is not always related to zinc intake but can reflect the distribution of zinc in relation to the proportion of body fat and factors related to the inflammatory processes that cause obesity. The purpose of this study was to assess zinc distribution in 15 obese adolescent girls before and after a nutritional orientation program. Participants ranged from 14 to 18 years old (postpubescent) and had a body fat percent (BF%) of >35 %. Zinc nutritional status and other zinc-dependent parameters, such as superoxide dismutase (SOD) and insulin levels, were assessed by biochemical analysis of plasma and erythrocytes, salivary sediment, and urine. Samples were collected before and after 4 months of dietary intervention. Dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) was used to verify BF% both at the beginning and at the end of the study. Food consumption was assessed in ten individual food questionnaires throughout the study; food groups were separated on the questionnaires in the same way as suggested by some authors to develop the Healthy Eating Index (HEI) but with the addition of zinc. After 4 months of nutritional orientation, 78 % of the participants showed a decrease in BF%. Intraerythrocytic zinc increased over the study period, while salivary sediment zinc, SOD, insulin, and Zn urinary24 h/creatinine all decreased (p < 0.05). There was no difference in zinc intake throughout the study but participants did increase their consumption of fruits, dairy, and meats during the study (p < 0.05). There were inverse and statistically significant correlations between the increased levels of intraerythrocytic zinc and decreased levels of SOD. There was also a statistically significant correlation between BF% and Zn urinary 24h/creatinine, and SOD. All these parameters were diminished at the end of the study. The dietary intervention for obese adolescent girls is effective with decrease of BF that led to the redistribution of zinc in the body as shown by the changes in erythrocytes, plasma, salivary, urine zinc, as well as the complementary parameters of insulin and SOD. These changes were not affected by zinc intake.

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Correspondence to Simone Cardoso Freire.

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Freire, S.C., Fisberg, M. & Cozzolino, S.M.F. Dietary Intervention Causes Redistribution of Zinc in Obese Adolescents. Biol Trace Elem Res 154, 168–177 (2013).

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Key words

  • Bioavailability
  • CuZnSOD
  • Diet therapy
  • Obesity
  • Puberty