Body composition in women with sickle cell disease

K. F. Woods, L. T. Ramsey, L. A. Callahan, G. A. Mensah, M. S. Litaker, A. Kutlar, P. Barbeau, B. Gutin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Adults with sickle cell disease (SCD) have increased morbidity and low perceived health status, similar to patients with other chronic conditions. These patients may be sedentary due to exercise intolerance, physical incapacity due to sickle cell-related complications or medical conservatism. Obesity is an indicator of low health status and overall well-being in the general population, and we hypothesize that adults with SCD will have a high total body fat (%BF). The purpose of this study was to assess body composition in women with SCD using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA). Baseline medical examination, laboratory assessments, and seven-day activity recall to estimate energy expenditure (EE) were obtained for 22 women with SCD. BMI was calculated and whole body DXA was performed [fat mass (FM), fat-free soft tissue (FFST), and bone mineral content (BMC)]. Descriptive statistics were obtained and associations between body composition indices, total hemoglobin (Hb), treatment with hydroxyurea (HU), and EE were determined. Patient age was 30.5±9.3 years and total Hb was 8.85±1.92 g/dL (mean±SD). Mean body mass index (BMI) (22.6 kg/m2) was in the 'acceptable' range, while DXA measurement of mean % fat (32.6%) indicated obesity. Fat-free mass (FFM) was 40.0±5.62 and bone mineral density (BMD) was 1.13±0.14 g/cm2 (mean±SD). There were no correlations between body composition indices and total Hb, HU, or EE. This is the first report of high levels of adiposity, low FFM, and low BMD in normal weight women with SCD. The findings were not affected by total Hb, EE, HU. Further studies are needed to better define body composition, body composition determinants, and their impact on overall health status in adults with SCD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-35
Number of pages6
JournalEthnicity and Disease
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2001


  • Body composition
  • Bone density
  • Health status
  • Obesity
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Sickle cell disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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