Size at birth and early postnatal growth are determinants of adult height and BMI. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of birth weight on body composition and fat distribution in a group of Spanish adolescents. Current body composition was assessed by both skinfold thickness and dual X-ray absorptiometry in 234 adolescents born at term (140 girls and 94 boys), now aged 13-18 y and living in the city of Zaragoza. Relative fat distribution was estimated using the ratio of the subscapular to triceps skinfolds (S:T). Birth weight and gestational age were assessed by a questionnaire. Birth weight was inversely associated with the S:T ratio (P < 0.05) in boys and directly associated with bone mass (P < 0.01) and fat-free mass (P < 0.05) in girls. This association was independent of factors such as age, Tanner stage, gestational age, socioeconomic status, physical activity, and height. In conclusion, our data support the hypothesis that impaired fetal growth, measured by birth weight, may be related to central fat distribution in boys and decreased bone and fat-free mass in girls.
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