Fatness and Fat Patterning as Independent Anatomical Characteristics of Body Composition: A Study of Urban South African Children|
Goon, Daniel Ter
Objective: The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between fat patterning, age and body
composition, among urban South African children in Pretoria, Central.
Methods: Samples for the study comprised 1136 participants (548 boys and 588 girls) and 581 black and 555
white drawn from 12 primary schools in Pretoria Central. Anthropometrical measurements include stature,
body mass and eight skinfolds: triceps, subscapular, biceps, supraspinal, abdomen, front thigh, iliac crest and
medial calf. Principal components analysis technique was applied to examine the components loadings. An
eigenvalue of >1.0 was retained for analysis. Pearson’s correlation coefficient was used to determine the
relationship of fat patterning scores, age and body composition measures.
Findings: Three principal components emerged. The first principal component was a size component
(fatness), accounting for 62.3% variance. The second component (central-peripheral patterning) accounted
for the total variance of 14.1%. The third component (lower trunk-upper extremity) of relative subcutaneous
fat distribution, explained about 10.2% of the total residual variance. Overall, the three components account
approximately for 87.0% of the total variance. The correlation coefficients indicating probabilities
demonstrated that the overall body fatness (PC1), but not PC2 or PC3 was significantly correlated with body
mass index (r=0.745, P<0.01), FM (r=0.672, P<0.01), fat-free mass (r=0.583, P<0.01), Percentage body fat
(r=0.701, P<0.01) and children's age (r=0.062, P<0.05).
Conclusion: The central-peripheral and upper-lower body extremity fat patterning components are
discernible among the sample of South African children in Pretoria. The results indicated that principal
component 1, but not 2 and 3 was significantly correlated with body composition variables and age,
suggesting that component 1 is truly an indicator of total body fatness and not fat patterning.
Fat Patterning; Principal Components Analysis; Body Composition; South African Children