BMI, Total and Abdominal Fat Distribution, and Cardiovascular Risk Factors in School-Age Children

Pediatr Res. 2015 May;77(5):710-8. doi: 10.1038/pr.2015.29. Epub 2015 Feb 9.


Background: More specific total body and abdominal fat mass measures might be stronger associated with cardiovascular risk factors in childhood, than BMI. We examined the independent associations of total and abdominal fat measures with cardiovascular risk factors in school age children.

Methods: We performed a population-based cohort study among 6,523 children. At the age of 6 y, we measured childhood BMI, and general and abdominal fat mass, using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, and ultrasound and cardiovascular risk factors.

Results: Conditional on BMI, higher fat mass percentage and abdominal fat mass were associated with higher blood pressure, total- and low-density lipoprotein (LDL)-cholesterol, insulin and c-peptide levels, but with lower left ventricular mass and high-density lipoprotein (HDL)-cholesterol (P values < 0.05). These associations differed between underweight, normal weight, overweight, and obese children. Higher childhood adiposity measures were associated with increased odds of cardiovascular risk factors clustering, with the strongest effect for fat mass percentage (odds ratios: 3.01 (95% confidence interval: 2.67, 3.9).

Conclusion: Our results suggest that general and abdominal fat measures are associated with cardiovascular risk factors in childhood, independent from BMI. These measures may provide additional information for identification of children with an adverse cardiovascular profile.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Fat / pathology*
  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Adiposity*
  • Blood Pressure
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / complications
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypercholesterolemia / complications
  • Hypertension / complications
  • Male
  • Overweight / complications
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Waist Circumference