Intra-abdominal and subcutaneous abdominal fat as predictors of cardiometabolic risk in a sample of Mexican children

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Few studies in Latin American paediatric populations have differentiated fat deposits in specific areas, such as intra-abdominal fat (IAF) and subcutaneous abdominal fat (SAF). Research in diverse populations is needed, as patterns of fat accumulation vary by ethnicity. The aim of this study was to determine whether IAF and/or SAF are related to cardiometabolic risk factors, independent of total body fat (TBF), in a group of Mexican schoolchildren.


A cross-sectional study was conducted in Mexico City with 94 children aged between 5 and 11 years. IAF and SAF were assessed by magnetic resonance using two different estimation methods: (a) at the midpoint of lumbar vertebras 4 and 5 (L4-L5) and (b) the sum of the areas of four slices (L1-L2, L2-L3, L3-L4 and L4-L5, which will be referred to as ‘total’ IAF and SAF). TBF was measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. The following cardiometabolic risk factors were assessed: total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol, triglycerides, glucose, insulin, high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol, blood pressure, insulin resistance, number of risk factors and metabolic syndrome score.


After adjusting for sex, age and TBF, total SAF was related to the number of cardiometabolic risk factors and metabolic syndrome score. Although IAF at L4-L5 was also related to the number of cardiometabolic risk factors, there was evidence of collinearity with TBF.


In this sample of Mexican schoolchildren, TBF and SAF, but not IAF, were associated with higher cardiometabolic risk.

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