Ethnic differences in body fat distribution among Asian pre-pubertal children: A cross-sectional multicenter study

Ailing Liu; Byrne, Nuala M.; Kagawa, Masaharu; Guansheng Ma; Kijboonchoo, Kallaya; Nasreddine, Lara; Bee Koon Poh; Ismail, Mohammad Noor; Hills, Andrew P.
January 2011
BMC Public Health;2011, Vol. 11 Issue 1, p500
Academic Journal
Background: Ethnic differences in body fat distribution contribute to ethnic differences in cardiovascular morbidities and diabetes. However few data are available on differences in fat distribution in Asian children from various backgrounds. Therefore, the current study aimed to explore ethnic differences in body fat distribution among Asian children from four countries. Methods: A total of 758 children aged 8-10 y from China, Lebanon, Malaysia and Thailand were recruited using a non-random purposive sampling approach to enrol children encompassing a wide BMI range. Height, weight, waist circumference (WC), fat mass (FM, derived from total body water [TBW] estimation using the deuterium dilution technique) and skinfold thickness (SFT) at biceps, triceps, subscapular, supraspinale and medial calf were collected. Results: After controlling for height and weight, Chinese and Thai children had a significantly higher WC than their Lebanese and Malay counterparts. Chinese and Thais tended to have higher trunk fat deposits than Lebanese and Malays reflected in trunk SFT, trunk/upper extremity ratio or supraspinale/upper extremity ratio after adjustment for age and total body fat. The subscapular/supraspinale skinfold ratio was lower in Chinese and Thais compared with Lebanese and Malays after correcting for trunk SFT. Conclusions: Asian pre-pubertal children from different origins vary in body fat distribution. These results indicate the importance of population-specific WC cut-off points or other fat distribution indices to identify the population at risk of obesity-related health problems.


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