Objectives: To assess fat distribution, prevalence of obesity, and the metabolic syndrome among diverse 6-13-year-old Colorado youth to better understand racial/ethnic influences on adiposity and metabolic syndrome.
Study design: We measured body mass index, subscapular-to-triceps skinfold ratio, waist circumference, dietary fat, and physical activity in 422 youth (47% non-Hispanic White, 44% Hispanic, and 9% African-American). Visceral adipose tissue, subcutaneous adipose tissue, and intramyocellular lipid were measured with magnetic resonance techniques. Multiple-linear regression was used to assess associations between race/ethnicity and adiposity patterns.
Results: Hispanic and African-American youth had a higher prevalence of obesity and metabolic syndrome compared with non-Hispanic White youth. Both groups displayed a more centralized fat distribution and larger volumes of subcutaneous tissue, compared with non-Hispanic White youth. After controlling for body mass index, these differences were attenuated, and for a given body size, African-American youth showed significantly lower visceral adipose tissue than non-Hispanic White youth. However, both Hispanic and African-American youth showed higher intermyocellular lipid in skeletal muscle compared with non-Hispanic Whites, independent of body size.
Conclusions: Racial/ethnic minorities experience higher overall adiposity, and may also have an increased risk for early development of metabolic syndrome relative to non-Hispanic White youth, beyond their increased obesity risk.
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