High fat diets are associated with higher abdominal adiposity regardless of physical activity in adolescents; the HELENA study

Idoia Labayen, Jonatan R. Ruiz, Francisco B. Ortega, Inge Huybrechts, Gerardo Rodríguez, David Jiménez-Pavón, Romana Roccaldo, Esther Nova, Kurt Widhalm, Anthony Kafatos, Dénés Molnar, Odysseas Androutsos, Luis A. Moreno

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16 Citations (Scopus)


Background & aims: Failure to attain fat balance may contribute to obesity development even without excessive energy intake. The objective of this study was to examine the associations of dietary macronutrient distribution with abdominal adiposity in adolescents and to evaluate whether these relationships were attenuated by physical activity. Methods: A total of 224 Spanish adolescents (51% females, 14.9 ± 1.2 years) were included in the study. Abdominal adiposity in three regions, truncal and total body fat mass (FM) and lean mass (LM) were measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry and thereafter FM index (FMI = FM/height2) and FMI/LMI ratio were calculated. The energy derived from fat intake was assessed by two non-consecutive 24 h recalls. Total physical activity (PA) and time spent in moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA) and vigorous PA were objectively measured by accelerometry. Results: We observed that the percent of energy derived from fat intake was significantly associated with FMI and FMI/LMI ratio (Ps = 0.001) and greater amounts of truncal (P = 0.001) and abdominal adiposity in the three regions regardless of age, sex and height (all P ≤ 0.005). The strength of the relationships was not substantially altered by further adjustment for PA, vigorous PA or moderate-to-vigorous PA (Ps ≤ 0.005). Conclusions: The percent of energy derived from dietary fat intake is strongly and linearly associated with total, truncal and abdominal adiposity independently of PA in adolescents. These observations implicate the amount of dietary fat intake as a specific risk factor in the excess of abdominal adiposity in adolescence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)859-866
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Nutrition
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2014



  • Abdominal adiposity
  • Adolescents
  • Dietary macronutrient distribution
  • Physical activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine

Cite this

Labayen, I., Ruiz, J. R., Ortega, F. B., Huybrechts, I., Rodríguez, G., Jiménez-Pavón, D., Roccaldo, R., Nova, E., Widhalm, K., Kafatos, A., Molnar, D., Androutsos, O., & Moreno, L. A. (2014). High fat diets are associated with higher abdominal adiposity regardless of physical activity in adolescents; the HELENA study. Clinical Nutrition, 33(5), 859-866. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.clnu.2013.10.008