Truncal adiposity is present at birth and in early childhood in South Indian children

GV Krishnaveni, JC Hill, SR Veena, SD Leary, CHD Fall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

116 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: Muscle-thin but adipose (‘thin-fat’) body composition of south Asian adults contributes
to their high risk of type 2 diabetes. Studies in Pune, India showed that this phenotype is present
at birth. We aimed to determine if south Indian babies have a ‘thin-fat’ phenotype and if this
persists in childhood. Design: Prospective cohort study. Setting: Holdsworth Memorial Hospital,
Mysore, India Subjects: Children (n = 663) whose mothers were recruited from the antenatal
clinics. Methods: Weight, length, head, mid-upper-arm, abdominal circumferences; triceps and
subscapular skinfolds were measured at birth, one and four years, and compared with white
Caucasian babies born in Southampton, UK (birth), and UK and Dutch growth standards (one and
four years). Results: Mysore babies were lighter (2983g vs 3472 g; –1.10 SD, CI –1.16, –1.02)
and smaller in all body measurements than UK neonates (P<0.001). The deficit was greatest for
mid-upper- arm (–1.07 SD), head (-0.89 SD) and abdominal circumferences (–0.73 SD), and least
for length (–0.25 SD) and subscapular skinfold thickness (–0.19 SD). Predictors of skinfold
thickness were maternal body mass index (P<0.001) and socio-economic status (P = 0.05). At four
years, subscapular skinfold thickness was larger than UK (+0.18 SD, CI +0.11, +0.25; P<0.001)
and Dutch standards (+0.61 SD, CI +0.51, +0.71; P<0.001), despite all other body measurements
remaining smaller. Predictors of 4-year skinfold thickness were neonatal skinfold thickness
(P = 0.001) and maternal insulin concentrations (P = 0.05). Conclusions: Mysore newborns have
a ‘thin-fat’ phenotype. This may reflect the action of genes and/or the ‘maternal environment’. The
phenotype persists in childhood, and may be the forerunner of a diabetogenic adult phenotype.
Translated title of the contributionTruncal adiposity is present at birth and in early childhood in South Indian children
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)527 - 528
Number of pages2
JournalIndian Paediatrics
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • Body fat, Children, Newborns, South Asia, Truncal adiposity.


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