Objective: Intra-abdominal adipose tissue (IAAT) is associated with the metabolic complications of obesity. However the time course for the development of IAAT is not clearly defined because it is generally difficult to measure directly. The purposes of this short communication are to present data supporting the existence of IAAT in young children using direct measurement with computed tomography imaging, and to examine the relationship between IAAT and anthropometric indices in 16 healthy children (6.4 +/- 1.2 years; 24.8 +/- 5.4 kg).
Design: Total body fat (6.4 +/- 3.5 kg) and fat free mass (18.4 +/- 3.6 kg) were determined by bioelectrical resistance. Fat distribution was estimated from eight individual skinfold measurements, the ratio of three trunk skinfolds to three extremity skinfolds (0.78 +/- 0.20), and the waist:hip ratio (0.90 +/- 0.08).
Results: Mean abdominal subcutaneous adipose tissue (SCAT) was 65.3 +/- 44.8 cm2, and mean IAAT was 8.3 +/- 5.8 cm2. The ratio of IAAT to SCAT was 0.15 +/- 0.08, and the ratio of IAAT to total body fat was 1.44 +/- 0.84 cm2/kg. IAAT was significantly correlated with body weight (r = 0.54; P = 0.03), all skinfold measures (range r = 0.60-0.78; P = 0.02 to 0.0003) except at the calf, fat mass (r = 0.69; P = 0.003), and the trunk to extremity skinfold ratio (r = 0.78; P = 0.0003). There was no significant correlation between IAAT and the waist:hip ratio (r = 0.21).
Conclusions: These preliminary results establish the existence of IAAT in young children and suggest that individual trunk skinfold measurements and the trunk:extremity skinfold ratio provide a better indication of IAAT compared to the waist:hip ratio. However, as with adults, the relationship between intra-abdominal adipose tissue and anthropometry in children is complex.