Adiposity, Fat Patterning, and the Metabolic Syndrome Among Diverse Youth: The EPOCH Study

J Pediatr. 2012 Nov;161(5):875-80. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2012.05.003. Epub 2012 Jun 14.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adiposity / ethnology*
  • Adolescent
  • Anthropometry
  • Body Constitution
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Size
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Colorado
  • Ethnic Groups
  • Humans
  • Metabolic Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Metabolic Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Metabolic Syndrome / ethnology
  • Obesity / diagnosis
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Obesity / ethnology
  • Prevalence
  • Regression Analysis
  • Risk