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Calcif Tissue Int. 2012 Oct;91(4):276-85. doi: 10.1007/s00223-012-9640-3. Epub 2012 Aug 21.

Relationship between markers of body fat and calcaneal bone stiffness differs between preschool and primary school children: results from the IDEFICS baseline survey.

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Department of Public Health, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium.


The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between markers of body fat and bone status assessed as calcaneal bone stiffness in a large sample of European healthy pre- and primary school children. Participants were 7,447 children from the IDEFICS study (spread over eight different European countries), age 6.1 ± 1.8 years (range 2.1-9.9), 50.5 % boys. Anthropometric measurements (weight, height, bioelectrical impedance, waist and hip circumference, and tricipital and subscapular skinfold thickness) as well as quantitative ultrasonographic measurements to determine calcaneal stiffness index (SI) were performed. Partial correlation analysis, linear regression analysis, and ANCOVA were stratified by sex and age group: preschool boys (n = 1,699) and girls (n = 1,599) and primary school boys (n = 2,062) and girls (n = 2,087). In the overall study population, the average calcaneal SI was equal to 80.2 ± 14.0, ranging 42.4-153. The results showed that preschool children with higher body fat had lower calcaneal SI (significant correlation coefficients between -0.05 and -0.20), while primary school children with higher body fat had higher calcaneal SI (significant correlation coefficients between 0.05 and 0.13). After adjusting for fat-free mass, both preschool and primary school children showed an inverse relationship between body fat and calcaneal stiffness. To conclude, body fat is negatively associated with calcaneal bone stiffness in children after adjustment for fat-free mass. Fat-free mass may confound the association in primary school children but not in preschool children. Muscle mass may therefore be an important determinant of bone stiffness.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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