To examine associations between regional fat mass (FM) distribution and cardiometabolic risk factors among ethnic minority groups, such as non-Hispanic blacks and Hispanics.

Design and Methods:

The associations among 8,802 US residents who participated in the 1999-2004 US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey were examined. Body composition was measured using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. Leg fat indices included leg FM, leg FM percent (FM%), leg to whole body FM ratio (leg/whole), and leg to trunk FM ratio (leg/trunk). The correlation between leg fat indices and adiposity-related risk factors, as well as the association of these indices with metabolic syndrome (MetS) was evaluated.


After adjusting for covariates including age, gender, and trunk FM or trunk FM%, higher leg FM and leg FM% were, in general, correlated favorably with adiposity-related risk factors and associated with lower odds of MetS in all ethnicities, including non-Hispanic whites and blacks and Hispanic groups. In addition, in all multivariate-adjusted models, leg/whole and leg/trunk ratios were strongly associated with lower levels of most risk factors and decreased odds of MetS in these ethnicities (all odds ratios comparing extreme quintiles < 0.1).


Results show that leg fat accumulation is inversely associated with adiposity-related biological factors and risk of MetS in both whites and ethnic groups, suggesting that regional fat distribution plays an important role in the etiology of adiposity-related diseases in these populations.