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Ectopic fat accumulation in prepubertal females predicts cardiometabolic risk in adulthood

27 May 2018
The obesity epidemic hits Malaysia hard with cardiovascular disease occurring during younger ages.

In prepubertal females, high adiposity in the abdominal region and ectopic fat accumulation in the skeletal muscle increase cardiometabolic risk in adulthood, a recent study has found. On the other hand, skeletal muscle size and muscle mass are not important cardiometabolic risk factors.

The muscle cross-sectional area and lean mass of the leg was significantly and positively associated with the metabolic syndrome score. A similar trend was observed for muscle cross-sectional area and lean mass for the whole body and for android fat mass. Overall, p-values ranged from <0.05–0.001.

In contrast, muscle density (r2=0.012; p<0.05) and the skeletal muscle index (r2=0.201; p<0.001) were significantly and inversely associated with metabolic syndrome score. The significance of these relationships was attenuated after adjusting for android or whole-body fat mass.

“To our knowledge, this is the first study to examine the longitudinal associations between adiposity, skeletal muscle size, mass and density and cardio-metabolic risk from childhood to early adulthood,” said researchers.

“[T]his report suggests that skeletal muscle size and mass per se are not associated with cardio-metabolic risk factors during pubertal growth,” they added, noting that waist circumference or waist-to-height ratio, instead, could be valuable in evaluating cardiometabolic risk in children.

For the study, researchers recruited 236 prepubertal females (mean age 11.2 years) and followed them for an average of 7.5 years. Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry was used to measure fat mass and whole-body lean mass, while peripheral quantitative computerized tomography was used to assess muscle cross-sectional area and skeletal muscle fat content (represented as muscle density) of the lower leg.

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