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May 3, 2000

Chronic Systemic Inflammation in Overweight and Obese Adults

Author Affiliations

Phil B.FontanarosaMD, Deputy EditorIndividualAuthorStephen J.LurieMD, PhD, Contributing EditorIndividualAuthor

JAMA. 2000;283(17):2235-2236. doi:10.1001/jama.283.17.2235

To the Editor: Dr Visser and colleagues1 found that obesity is associated with elevated levels of CRP and hypothesized that this is related to increased IL-6 production by excess adipose tissue.

We reported clinical data in 24 morbidly obese patients being evaluated for gastric bypass surgery that are consistent with their findings.2 More than half of these patients had erythrocyte sedimentation rates (ESRs) exceeding the upper limit of normal, with levels more than twice normal for the 3 most obese individuals (greater than 275% of desirable body weight). White blood cell counts were normal, hemoglobin values were all greater than 120 g/L, and none of the patients had evidence of an inflammatory disorder. The ESR is a nonspecific indicator of a systemic inflammatory response. The much higher prevalence of elevated levels of ESR in our sample compared with only 6.7% of the population with clinically raised levels of CRP in the study of Visser et al presumably reflects the much higher prevalence of obesity in our sample. It is interesting to speculate that a common consequence of systemic inflammation is the development of anorexia.3

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