Background

We examined sex and ethnic differences in how baseline and changes in anthropometric measures relate with change in visceral fat with interventions in adolescents with obesity.

Methods

One hundred and forty-three black and white adolescents (BMI>85th percentile, 12-18 years) who participated in exercise intervention studies (3-6 months) were included and had assessments of anthropometric measures [body weight, BMI, waist circumference (WC), waist-to-hip ratio (WHR), and waist-to-thigh ratio (WTR)] and visceral fat at L4-L5 by magnetic resonance imaging before and after interventions.

Results

At baseline, all of the anthropometric measures were positively associated with visceral fat (P<0.05), with body weight, WC and WHR having the largest variance explained (Model Adjusted R2 =0.35 to 0.47 versus 0.32 to 0.35).Blacks had 11.5 to 23.3 cm2 less visceral fat as compared to whites for a given anthropometric value.Girls tended to have less visceral fat for a given anthropometric value, but the sex differences were not consistently significant (range: 0.7 to 12.9 cm2).Changes in WC, BMI and body weight, but not WHR, remained significantly associated with changes in visceral fat.There were no sex differences, and much more minimal ethnic differences (<4.9 cm2).

Conclusions

At baseline, there are sex and ethnic differences in how anthropometric measures correlate with visceral fat.However, there were minimal sex and ethnic differences in how changes in anthropometric measures related with changes in visceral fat.Although, all of the anthropometric measures were associated with visceral fat at baseline, WC, BMI and body weight, but not WHR were associated with changes in visceral fat.