Differences in oral temperature and body shape in two populations with different propensities for obesity

Barbora Vozarova, Cristian Weyer, Clifton Bogardus, Eric Ravussin, P Antonio Tataranni

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Objective Body temperature is a function of heat production and heat dissipation. Substantial interindividual variability has been reported in healthy humans. We hypothesized that Pima Indians, a population with a high prevalence of abdominal obesity, may have a lower surface area relative to volume, that is, lower radiating area, and therefore a higher body temperature compared to Caucasians. Methods?Body composition, including volume (hydrodensitometry), and oral temperature were assessed in 69 nondiabeticCaucasian [age, 30 ? 7 years; body fat, 21 ? 8 (mean ? SD)] and 115 Pima Indian males [age, 27 ? 6 years; body fat, 28 ? 6 . Surface area was estimated from height, weight, and waist circumference (Bouchard?s equation). In 47Pima Indians, measures of insulin sensitivity (M, hyperinsulinemic euglycemic clamp) were available. Results?Compared to Caucasians, Pima Indians had a higher oral temperature [36.4 ? 0.3 C vs. 36.3 ? 0.3 C (mean ? SD), p <0.04]and lower surface area relative to volume (2.19 ? 0.05 vs. 2.23 ? 0.26 m2,p <0.0001). Surface area relative to volume was negatively correlated with oral temperature (r = ?0.14, p <0.05), but in a multiple linear regression model it did not entirely explain the ethnic difference in oral temperature. Oral temperature was inversely correlated with M (r = ?0.28, p <0.05). Conclusions. Pima Indians have higher oral temperature and lower surface area relative to volume than Caucasians. The ethnic difference in temperature does not seem to be entirely explained by differences in body composition and body shape.Interestingly, higher oral temperature was associated with insulin resistance, a risk factor for type 2 diabetes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)516-521
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Ethnicity
  • Insulin sensitivity
  • Surface area
  • Thermogenesis

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