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J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2011 Nov;53(5):553-60. doi: 10.1097/MPG.0b013e318228d7bb.

Decrease of total subcutaneous adipose tissue from infancy to childhood.

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Department of General Pediatrics, University Clinic of Pediatrics and Adolescence Medicine, Medical University Graz, Graz, Austria.



The observation and research of body composition is a topic of present interest. For the assessment of health and variables influencing growth and nutrition, it is of utmost interest to focus on the population of young children.


The measurements of subcutaneous body fat distribution in a sample of clinically healthy children ages 0 to 7 years were examined. The optical device LIPOMETER was applied to measure the thickness of subcutaneous adipose tissue layers (in millimeters) at 15 well-defined body sites. This set of measurement points defines the subcutaneous adipose tissue topography. In the present study, subcutaneous adipose tissue topography was determined in 275 healthy children (128 girls and 147 boys) divided into 3 age groups.


The results of the measurements are presented in 3 levels: total subcutaneous adipose tissue, 4 body regions, and 15 body sites. Our results show a clear physiological decrease in subcutaneous body fat in boys (-43.8%) and girls (-39.8%). One interesting finding was that the decrease occurs mainly in the trunk, abdomen, and lower extremities, whereas the body fat distribution of the upper extremities did not differ. Furthermore, slight subcutaneous adipose tissue topography differences between both sexes were found.


The present study provides basic documentation of subcutaneous adipose tissue topography in healthy children ages 0 to 7 years. An accurate description of subcutaneous adipose tissue topography in healthy subjects could help to characterize various diseases in relation to overnutrition and malnutrition throughout childhood.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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