(HealthDay News) – The use of imaging studies has contributed to an understanding of differences in fat distribution and their link to metabolic disease in childhood.

Anastasia Samara, PhD, of King Saud University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and associates conducted a literature review to investigate fat distribution (visceral and subcutaneous abdominal, intrahepatic, and intramuscular) and its association with metabolic risk, based on various imaging techniques.

The researchers identified 80 original articles. Already in childhood, abdominal and ectopic fat depots were prevalent, and starting early in life, these contributed to abnormal metabolic parameters. Although visceral, hepatic, and intramuscular fat seem to be correlated, the patterns and their independent contribution to metabolic risk were not clear. Certain ethnic-specific characteristics were identified.

“These results encourage further research in childhood obesity by using imaging techniques such as magnetic resonance imaging and computed tomography,” the authors write. “These imaging methods can provide a better understanding of fat distribution and its relationships with metabolic risk, compared to less detailed fat and obesity assessment.”

Full Text (subscription or payment may be required)