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J Epidemiol. 2012;22(2):130-5. Epub 2012 Feb 11.

Asian ethnicity is associated with a higher trunk/peripheral fat ratio in women and adolescent girls.

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University of Hawaii Cancer Center, Honolulu, HI 96813, USA.



Ethnic differences in body fat mass and distribution may develop in childhood and contribute to increased obesity-related disease risk among Asians. We used dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) to evaluate adiposity measures among adult women and their adolescent daughters, who were of predominantly Japanese and white ethnicity.


We obtained DXA whole body scans for 101 mothers aged 30 years or older and 112 daughters aged 10 to 16 years. The participants were classified as Asian, part-Asian, mixed/other, or white. As a measure of central adiposity, we calculated the trunk/peripheral fat ratio (TPFR). General linear models were used to evaluate differences in adiposity measures by ethnic category.


In mothers, TPFR was significantly higher (P(trend) < 0.01) in Asians and part-Asians (1.38 ± 0.42 and 1.32 ± 0.51) than in mixed/others and whites (1.18 ± 0.27 and 1.09 ± 0.21). The trend was similar among daughters (P(trend) < 0.001), with respective values of 1.09 ± 0.18, 0.97 ± 0.17, 0.99 ± 0.16, and 0.87 ± 0.11. Among mothers, gynoid fat mass and peripheral fat mass were significantly lower in Asians than in whites, whereas none of the regional DXA adiposity measures differed by ethnicity in daughters.


These results confirm previous reports of greater central adiposity in women of Asian ancestry and indicate that ethnic differences in adiposity are already present in adolescence.

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