Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Low serum creatinine is associated with type 2 diabetes in morbidly obese women and men: a cross-sectional study

Jøran Hjelmesæth1*, Jo Røislien12, Njord Nordstrand1, Dag Hofsø1, Helle Hager3 and Anders Hartmann4

Author Affiliations

1 The Morbid Obesity Centre, Vestfold Hospital Trust, Tønsberg, Norway

2 Department of Biostatistics, Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway

3 Department of Clinical Chemistry, Vestfold Hospital Trust, Tønsberg, Norway

4 Department of Medicine, Rikshospitalet University Hospital, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway

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BMC Endocrine Disorders 2010, 10:6  doi:10.1186/1472-6823-10-6

Published: 18 April 2010



Low skeletal muscle mass is associated with insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome. Serum creatinine may serve as a surrogate marker of muscle mass, and a possible relationship between low serum creatinine and type 2 diabetes has recently been demonstrated. We aimed to validate this finding in a population of Caucasian morbidly obese subjects.


Cross-sectional study of 1,017 consecutive morbidly obese patients with an estimated glomerular filtration rate >60 ml/min/1.73 m2. Logistic regression (univariate and multiple) was used to assess the association between serum creatinine and prevalent type 2 diabetes, including statistically testing for the possibility of non-linearity in the relationship by implementation of Generalized Additive Models (GAM) and piecewise linear regression. Possible confounding variables such as age, family history of diabetes, waist-to-hip ratio, hypertension, current smoking, serum magnesium, albuminuria and insulin resistance (log HOMA-IR) were adjusted for in three separate multiple logistic regression models.


The unadjusted GAM analysis suggested a piecewise linear relationship between serum creatinine and diabetes. Each 1 μmol/l increase in serum creatinine was associated with 6% (95% CI; 3%-8%) and 7% (95% CI; 2%-13%) lower odds of diabetes below serum creatinine levels of 69 and 72 μmol/l in women and men, respectively. Above these breakpoints the serum creatinine concentrations did not reduce the odds further. Adjustments for non-modifiable and modifiable risk factors left the piecewise effect for both women and men largely unchanged. In the fully adjusted model, which includes serum magnesium, albuminuria and log HOMA-IR, the piecewise effect for men was statistically non-significant, but it remained present for women. Patients with creatinine levels below median had approximately 50% (women) and 75% (men) increased odds of diabetes.


Low serum creatinine is a predictor of type 2 diabetes in Caucasian morbidly obese patients, independent of age, gender, family history of diabetes, anthropometric measures, hypertension, and current smoking. Longitudinal studies of both obese and non-obese populations are needed to investigate whether serum creatinine may be causally linked with type 2 diabetes, and if so, precisely how they are linked.