The inter-relationships between body build, body composition, body fat distribution, metabolic syndrome and inflammation in adult Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

  • Jaquelyne Hughes

    Student thesis: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) - CDU


    A centralised pattern of fat distribution is a major risk factor for diabetes and cardiovascular disease. In Australia, Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islander peoples have a disproportionately higher burden of disease, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease and indicators of chronic kidney impairment than other Australians. Despite this burden of illness, few studies report a detailed examination of the body build and composition of Indigenous Australians. This is the first detailed study of body composition and health indicators in large numbers of Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islander people.

    The thesis reports on findings of two independent studies involving Indigenous Australians. A healthy young adult group who underwent detailed body composition and health assessment, and a larger population of Aboriginal adults and Torres Strait Islander adults who had a spectrum of chronic disease risk markers.

    We have reported two key differences in the dimensions of the upper body (trunk) between Aboriginal adults and Torres Strait Islander adults. First, Aboriginal adults and Torres Strait Islander adults demonstrate a proportionately shorter trunk than Caucasians, and this was closely related to a central pattern of obesity in Aboriginal adults and Torres Strait Islander adults. Second, Torres Strait Islander adults have a broader skeleton than Caucasian adults who in turn have a broader skeleton than Aboriginal participants, and skeletal size was strongly associated with proportion of lean body mass.

    Lean Aboriginal adults displayed numerous indicators of health. In contrast, even modest levels of overweight were strongly related to intra-abdominal fat deposition, and key cardiovascular risk markers: albuminuria, inflammation and low HDLcholesterol. Adiposity was also related to the pattern of fat-related biomarkers (adipokines): high leptin and low adiponectin levels were associated with high body fat, and high intra-abdominal fat respectively. Finally, we propose a link that high leptin and low adiponectin levels are associated with albuminuria in Indigenous Australians, which is a known independent risk marker for both cardiovascular disease and kidney failure.
    Date of AwardApr 2013
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorLouise Maple-Brown (Supervisor) & Kerin O'Dea (Supervisor)

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