Body composition and systematic low-grade inflammation in children : the PLAY study
Pretorius, Rachelle Ann
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Background: Obesity-related diseases are arising as a major problem among children. inflammation has recently been identified to play an important role in the relationship between obesity.- as well as stunting-related diseases. Objectives: The aim of this study was to assess the association between serum tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), interleukin-6 (IL-6) and C-reactive protein (CRP) concentrations and a variety of cardiometabolic and anthropometric indices of children in a township outside Potchefstroom, South Africa. Methods: Blood samples of 115 girls and 78 boys (mean age 15.6 ± 1.35) in the Physical Activity in the Young (PLAY) study were cross-sectionally analysed. Trained fieldworkers collected the demographic, Tanner growth stage and habitual physical activity information. Physiologists measured the children’s blood pressure. Anthropometric measurements were taken by. trained post-graduate students with level 1 or 2 qualifications in anthropometrics. A standard test battery was administered by trained postgraduate students in Human Movement Science to assess muscular strength. flexibility and endurance of the children. Blood samples were collected, centrifuged and stored frozen until further analyses. Results: Stunted girls had a significantly higher serum TNF-α concentration than the non-stunted girls (p=0.03). The factor analyses showed that the inflammatory. status clustered with the height for age-z-scores (HAZ) scores and the waist-hip-ratio (WHR). The HAZ-score of the over-fat boys (- 1.46) was significantly smaller than the lean boys (- 1.14, p=0.0 1). whereas the over-fat girls had a trend for a smaller HAZ-score (-1.07) than the lean girls (-0.89). No significant differences were found between the over-fat and the lean children-s inflammatory status. TNF-α and CRP levels tended to be higher in the over-fat children than in lean children. The girls' scrum IL-6 and CRP concentrations correlated significantly with their body mass index (BMI) and WHR (p<0.05 )and their TNF-α and IL-6 concentrations correlated significantly with their WHR (p<0.01 and p<0.05, respectively). Conclusion: In comparison to the non-stunted girls, stunted girls had a statistically significantly higher TNF-α concentration. Unusual fat distribution that is found in over-fat and stunted children may be associated with low-grade inflammation in children. More research is needed on these associations with markers of inflammation in a long-term longitudinal study.
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