Cardiometabolic risk: Leg fat is protective during childhood

Hanen Samouda*, Carine De Beaufort, Saverio Stranges, Marco Hirsch, Jean Paul Van Nieuwenhuyse, Georges Dooms, Georges Gilson, Olivier Keunen, Sonia Leite, Michel Vaillant, Marie Lise Lair, Frédéric Dadoun

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Childhood obesity is associated with early cardiometabolic risk (CMR), increased risk of adulthood obesity, and worse health outcomes. Leg fat mass (LFM) is protective beyond total fat mass (TFM) in adults. However, the limited evidence in children remains controversial. Objective: We investigated the relationship between LFM and CMR factors in youth. Subjects: A total of 203 overweight/obese children, 7-17-yr-old, followed in the Pediatric Clinic, Luxembourg. Methods: TFM and LFM by dual energy x-ray absorptiometry and a detailed set of CMR markers were analyzed. Results: After TFM, age, sex, body mass index (BMI) Z-score, sexual maturity status, and physical activity adjustments, negative significant partial correlations were shown between LFM and homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA) (variance explained: 6.05% by LFM; 7.18% by TFM), fasting insulin (variance explained: 5.71% by LFM; 6.97% by TFM), triglycerides (variance explained: 3.96% by LFM; 2.76% by TFM), systolic blood pressure (variance explained: 2.68% by LFM; 4.33% by TFM), C-reactive protein (variance explained: 2.31% by LFM; 4.28% by TFM), and resistin (variance explained: 2.16% by LFM; 3.57% by TFM). Significant positive partial correlations were observed between LFM and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (variance explained: 4.16% by LFM) and adiponectin (variance explained: 3.09% by LFM) (p-value < 0.05 and p-value < 0.001). In order to adjust for multiple testing, Benjamini-Hochberg method was applied and the adjusted significance level was determined for each analysis. LFM remained significant in the aforementioned models predicting HOMA, fasting insulin, triglycerides, and HDL cholesterol (Benjamini and Hochberg corrected p-value < 0.01). Conclusions: LFM is protective against CMR in children, at least in terms of insulin resistance and adverse blood lipid profiles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)300-308
Number of pages9
JournalPediatric Diabetes
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2016


  • Cardiometabolic risk
  • DXA
  • Fat mass
  • Leg fat
  • Visceral fat


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