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Different associations between obesity and impaired fasting glucose depending on serum gamma-glutamyltransferase levels within normal range: a cross-sectional study

Nam Soo Hong1, Jeong-Gook Kim2, Yu-Mi Lee1, Hyun-Woo Kim3, Sin Kam1, Keon-Yeop Kim1, Ki-Su Kim1 and Duk-Hee Lee14*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Preventative Medicine, School of Medicine, Kyungpook National University, 680 Gukchaebosang-ro, Jung-gu, Daegu, South Korea

2 Department of Life Science, Gachon University, 191 Hambakmoero, Yeonsu-gu, Incheon, South Korea

3 Department of Family Medicine, Daegu Medical Center, 157 Pyungli-ro, Seo-Gu, Daegu, South Korea

4 BK21 Plus KNU Biomedical Convergence Program, Department of Biomedical Science, Kyungpook National University, 680 Gukchaebosang-ro, Jung-gu, Daegu, South Korea

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BMC Endocrine Disorders 2014, 14:57  doi:10.1186/1472-6823-14-57

Published: 12 July 2014



Despite the consistent relationship between serum γ-glutamyltransferase (GGT) and type 2 diabetes (T2D), one unsolved issue is the role of serum GGT in the well-known association between obesity and T2D. This study was performed to investigate whether the association between body mass index (BMI) and impaired fasting glucose (IFG) differed depending on serum GGT levels within the normal range.


Study subjects were 2,424 men and 3,652 women aged ≥ 40, participating in the Fifth Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Serum GGT levels within the normal range were classified into gender-specific tertiles.


Among men and women belonging to the lowest tertile of serum GGT, BMI showed statistically non-significant weak associations with the risk of IFG. However, among persons in the highest tertile of serum GGT, the risk of IFG was 3 − 4 times higher among persons with BMI ≥ 25 kg/m2 than those with BMI < 23 kg/m2 (Pinteraction = 0.032 in men and 0.059 in women).


The well-known strong association between BMI and IFG was observed mainly among persons with elevation of serum GGT to certain physiological levels, suggesting a critical role of serum GGT in the pathogenesis of IFG. This finding has an important clinical implication because serum GGT can be used to detect high-risk obese persons.

γ-Glutamyltransferase (GGT); Impaired fasting glucose; Obesity; Type 2 diabetes