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Eur J Pediatr. 2014 Mar;173(3):345-52. doi: 10.1007/s00431-013-2164-7. Epub 2013 Oct 6.

Body composition phenotypes and carotid intima-media thickness in 11-13-year-old children.

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  • 1Exercise and Health Laboratory, Interdisciplinary Centre for the Study of Human Performance, Faculty of Human Kinetics, University of Lisbon, Estrada da Costa, 1495-688, Lisbon, Portugal, xaviermelo@fmh.ulisboa.pt.


Early detection of impairment in vascular structure is an important clinical pursuit. However, it is unknown which measure of body composition best predicts vascular wall changes. We assess the differences in body composition among intima-media thickness (IMT) tertiles and determined which measures of body composition are associated with IMT in 385 children aged 11-13 years (196 girls). In this cross-sectional study, body mass index (BMI), waist circumference (WC), body fat mass (BFM), and trunk fat mass (TFM) from dual-energy radiographic absorptiometry and IMT through high-resolution ultrasonography were collected. Differences in body composition measures among IMT tertiles [low IMT (LIMT), ≤ 0.46 mm; middle IMT, 0.46-0.53 mm; higher IMT (HIMT), ≥0.53 mm] were assessed with ANOVA/ANCOVA after categorization. Regression analysis was used to assess the relationships between body composition and IMT. The groups were similar for sex, age, and maturity (p > 0.05). As compared with LIMT group, subjects with HIMT had higher mean values of BMI, BFM, TFM, and WC (p < 0.05). Significant differences were found for WC even when controlling for BMI (p < 0.05). Combining all subjects, IMT was significantly correlated to BMI, BFM, TFM, and WC (p < 0.05). In multiple regression, WC was the only predictor of IMT (β = 0.22, p < 0.001).


Differences exist in body composition variables among IMT tertiles. In the overall model, WC was the only obesity-related predictor of increased IMT in 11-13-year-old children.

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