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Keywords:

  • lipometer;
  • fat distribution;
  • body composition;
  • PCOS

Abstract

The new optical device, the lipometer, enables the noninvasive, quick, safe, and precise determination of the thickness of subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT) layers at any given site of the human body. Fifteen anatomically well-defined body sites from neck to calf describe a SAT topography (SAT-Top) like an individual “fingerprint” of a subject. This SAT-Top was examined in 16 women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and compared to the body fat distribution of 87 age-matched healthy controls and 20 type-2 diabetic women. SAT-Top differences of these three groups were described and, to render the possibility of visual comparison, the 15-dimensional body fat information was condensed to a two-dimensional factor plot by factor analysis. All PCOS patients had an android body fat distribution with significantly thinner SAT layers on the legs as compared to healthy controls. Moreover, a hierarchical cluster analysis resulted in two distinctly different groups of PCOS women, a lean (PCOSL) and an obese (PCOSO) cluster: compared to healthy women, lean PCOS patients had significantly lower total SAT development, even though height, weight, and body mass index did not deviate significantly. Especially on the legs, their SAT layers were significantly lowered, indicating a more “apple-like” fat distribution type. Obese PCOS women showed a SAT-Top pattern very similar to that of women with type-2 diabetes, although the mean age difference between these groups was more than 30 years. Compared to healthy controls, the SAT-Top of these obese PCOS patients was strongly shifted into the android direction, appearing as “super-apples” with a significantly increased upper trunk obesity to 237.8% and a significantly decreased leg SAT development to 79.8%. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2003. © 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.