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Am J Clin Nutr. 1996 Dec;64(6):833-9.

Differences in body composition of black and white girls.

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Warren Grant Magnuson Clinical Center, NICHD, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892-1862, USA.


Adults have racial differences in body composition that may modulate risks resulting from obesity. Although black and white children have been shown previously to have differences in bone mineral density and subcutaneous body fat, differences in visceral adipose tissue have not been evaluated. We studied 20 black and 20 white normal-weight girls aged 7-10 y, who were matched for weight, body mass index (BMI), bone age, chronological age, Tanner breast stage, and socioeconomic status. Each underwent anthropometric measurements, bioelectrical impedance analysis, dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA), and abdominal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for determination of total (TAT), visceral (VAT), and subcutaneous (SAT) adipose tissue. Serum lipids and fasting and 2-h oral-glucose-tolerance test (OGTT) glucose and insulin concentrations were also measured. There were no differences between groups in absolute waist circumference or waist-to-hip ratio, but waist-to-thigh ratio was smaller in black than in white girls. Black girls had greater bone mineral density and less TAT, VAT, and SAT than whites. VAT was not significantly correlated with any measure of insulin, or with serum lipids. However, both basal and 2-h OGTT serum insulin were significantly correlated with SAT as assessed by MRI in black girls (r2 = 0.46 for basal insulin, P = 0.001: r2 = 0.31 for 2-h insulin, P = 0.01) but not in white girls (r2 < 0.05, for basal and 2-h insulin, NS). We conclude that there are significant racial differences in body composition and differences in the strength of association between abdominal adipose tissue depots and insulin sensitivity in black and white girls.

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