Association between TSH levels within the reference range and adiposity markers at the baseline of the ELSA–Brasil study

Maria de Fátima Haueisen Sander Diniz, Alline Maria Rezende Beleigoli, Isabela M. Benseñor, Paulo A. Lotufo, Alessandra C. Goulart, Sandhi Maria Barreto

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13 Citations (Scopus)
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Background The association of thyrotropin (TSH) with overall (body mass index, BMI), visceral (waist circumference and steatosis), and upper subcutaneous (neck circumference, NC) adiposity markers is still controversial, and the aim of this study is to assess these associations in the baseline data of a large cohort from ELSA-Brasil. Methods and findings This cross-sectional study included 11,224 participants with normal thyroid function (normal TSH levels). BMI, waist circumference, NC and steatosis, defined by hepatic attenuation (mild or moderate/severe) were the explicative variables. TSH levels were log transformed (logTSH), and multivariate linear regression models were generated to estimate the associations between logTSH and BMI (continuous and categorized), waist circumference, NC, and steatosis after adjusting for sociodemographic characteristics, health behaviors, and comorbidities. The mean age was 51.5±8.9 years, 5,793 (51.6%) participants were women, 21.8% (n = 2,444) were obese, and 15.1% of the sample was TPOAb positive. The TSH levels were significantly higher in the obese group than in the reference group (<25.0 kg/m2). In the multivariable linear regression models, significant associations of logTSH with BMI and obesity were found. LogTSH was associated with waist circumference only among women. NC and steatosis were not related to TSH levels. Conclusions TSH levels were associated with overall adiposity and obesity. Further studies may elucidate reference levels of TSH according to BMI status.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0228801
JournalPLoS One
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 7 Feb 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright: © 2020 Diniz et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


  • TSH levels
  • ELSA-Brasil study
  • Range and adiposity markers
  • Overall (body mass index, BMI)
  • Visceal (Waist circumference and steatosis)
  • Upper subcutaneous (neck circumference, NC)


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