Body fat distribution in stunted compared with normal-height children from the shantytowns of São Paulo, Brazil

Daniel J. Hoffman, Paula A. Martins, Susan B. Roberts, Ana Lydia Sawaya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Objective: The objective of this study was to determine whether central fat distribution varies between children who were growth retarded as young children and normal-height children from the same impoverished communities of São Paulo, Brazil. Methods: A prospective study of 50 stunted and normal-height children in São Paulo, Brazil was conducted in which children were measured for changes in fat mass (FM) and fat distribution (using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry and anthropometry) and Tanner stage over a 4-y period. Statistical analyses included multiple linear regression to control for confounding factors and Student's t test was used to estimate group differences. Results: At follow-up, stunted children were shorter, weighed less, and had less total FM compared with control children. There were no differences between the two groups with respect to percent FM or percent truncal FM (%TrFM). Linear regression analyses were used to determine that stunted children had 1) increased TrFM (independent of FM); 2) increased %TrFM (independent of FM, gender, and Tanner stage), and 3) a borderline significantly greater change in TrFM (independent of FM, gender, and Tanner stage). Conclusion: Stunted children are more likely to deposit fat centrally when entering puberty, a significant risk factor for chronic diseases. Our results may explain part of the association between early growth retardation and later risk for metabolic diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)640-646
Number of pages7
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


  • Chronic disease
  • Fat distribution
  • Stunting
  • Transitional countries


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