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Trunk fat causes heavy load for boys – Research Notebook

Trunk fat causes heavy load for boys – Research Notebook – Brief Article

Boys with chubby bellies are more likely to have high blood pressure than their slimmer counterparts, a new study indicates.

The study, which included 920 healthy children, did not find a similar association in girls. “To our knowledge, this study is the first to identify a gender difference in the association between fat distribution and blood pressure in children and adolescents,” says the study’s lead author, Dympna Gallagher, Ed.D., associate professor of nutrition at the Obesity Research Center, St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital Institute of Human Nutrition in New York City.

Elevated blood pressure is associated with increased risk for developing high blood pressure as an adult. Other studies have shown that young adults who have high blood pressure develop left ventricular hypertrophy, or an enlarged heart, which can also increase the risk of having a heart attack early in life.

Researchers measured trunk fat distribution using skin-fold thickness and duel energy absorptiometry (DXA). DXA is a method for assessing bone mineral density and body composition. It involves scanning the body to distinguish fat and lean tissues. The study of children ages 5 to 18 included 442 girls (145 black, 161 Asian, and 136 Caucasian) and 478 boys (128 black, 184 Asian, and 166 Caucasian).

“Trunk fat by skin fold and DXA measurement was positively associated with systolic and diastolic pressure,” says Gallagher. “However, when we looked at the gender groups separately, we found the relationship was limited to boys and this difference was not influenced by race.”

In adults, a greater accumulation of trunk fat is known to be a predisposing factor for increased cardiovascular risk. Gallagher adds that children with a similar fat distribution may be at increased risk.

The study, titled “Trunk Fat and Blood Pressure in Children through Puberty,” is published in the Feb. 4, 2002, rapid access issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association. For more information, visit the American Heart Association journals home page at, click on the Circulation icon, then click on the Rapid Access Publications button.

COPYRIGHT 2002 U.S. Government Printing Office

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group