Posted on Dec 05, 2008, 6 a.m.
By Rich Hurd
Childhood obesity may cause structural changes to the thyroid gland similar to those seen with the autoimmune disease Hashimoto's thyroiditis.
Dr Giorgio Radetti and colleagues from the Regional Hospital of Bolzano in Italy conducted a study of 226 children, 186 who were obese and overweight, and 40 of normal body weight who served as controls. Blood samples were taken for assessment of serum free T3, free T4, TSH, anti-thyroid antibodies, and each participant was also given a thyroid ultrasound.
Results of the thyroid ultrasound showed that 70 of the 186 obese and overweight children had structural features suggestive of Hashimoto's thyroiditis. However, they did not have the anti-thyroid antibodies needed to diagnose Hashimoto's thyroiditis, and further cytological tests confirmed that the children did not have the autoimmune disease. Other results showed that many of the 70 children also had TSH levels above the upper limit. According to the authors, these findings suggest that “adiposity may be involved in mechanisms causing thyroid dysfunction and morphological thyroid changes.”
The authors believe that the changes could be triggered by the “existence of a low-grade inflammation state, which has been known to characterize obesity.”
Radettie G, Kleon W, Buzi F, Crivellaro C, Pappalardo L, di Iorgi N, Maghnie M. Thyroid Function and Structure Are Affected in Childhood Obesity. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2008;93:4749-4754. doi:10.1210/jc.2008-0823