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Association of adiposity measures in childhood and adulthood with knee cartilage thickness, volume and bone area in young adults

International Journal of Obesity (2018) | Download Citation



To describe the associations of childhood and adulthood adiposity measures with knee cartilage thickness, volume and bone area in young adults.


Childhood and adulthood adiposity measures (weight, height, waist circumference and hip circumference) of 186 participants were collected in 1985 (aged 7–15 years) and during 2004–2006 (aged 26–36 years). Knee magnetic resonance imaging was conducted during 2008–2010 (aged 31–41 years) and cartilage thickness, volume and bone area were measured using a quantitative approach (Chondrometrics, Germany). Linear regressions were used to examine the above associations.


The prevalence of overweight was 7.6% in childhood and 42.1% in adulthood. Childhood weight (β = − 5.57 mm2/kg) and body mass index (BMI) (β = − 11.55 mm2/kg/m2) were negatively associated with adult patellar bone area, whereas adult weight was positively associated with bone area in medial femorotibial compartment (MFTC) (β = 3.37 mm2/kg) and lateral femorotibial compartment (LFTC) (β = 2.08 mm2/kg). Adult waist–hip ratio (WHR) was negatively associated with cartilage thickness (MFTC: β = − 0.011; LFTC: β = − 0.012 mm/0.01 unit), volume (Patella: β = − 20.97; LFTC: β = − 21.71 mm3/0.01 unit) and bone area (Patella: β = − 4.39 mm2/0.01 unit). The change in WHR z-scores from childhood to adulthood was negatively associated with cartilage thickness (MFTC: β = − 0.056 mm), volume (patella: − 89.95; LFTC: − 93.98 mm3), and bone area (patella: − 20.74 mm2). All p-values < 0.05.


Childhood weight and BMI were negatively but adult weight was positively associated with adult bone area. Adult WHR and the change in WHR from childhood to adulthood were negatively associated with cartilage thickness, volume, and bone area. These suggest early-life adiposity measures may affect knee structures in young adults.

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Special thanks go to the participants who made this study possible. The roles of Liz O’Loughlin, Judy Hankin in collecting the data, Marita Dalton in managing the database and Professor Leigh Blizzard in data analysis are gratefully acknowledged.


The National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (Grant number: 490006) funded this study. The funders had no role to play in the study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish or preparation of the manuscript.

Author contributions:

Study conception and design: TM, AV, FC, LM, TD, GJ and CD. Acquisition of data: TM, AV, FE, WW, FC, LM, TD, MC, GJ, CD and BA. Analysis and interpretation of data: TM, AV, FE, WW, FC, LL, GJ, CD and BA. All authors participated in the preparation of manuscript, approved the manuscript for submission and publication, and agreed to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

Author information


  1. Menzies Institute for Medical Research, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia

    • Tao Meng
    • , Alison Venn
    • , Terence Dwyer
    • , Laura L Laslett
    • , Graeme Jones
    • , Changhai Ding
    •  & Benny Antony
  2. Institute of Anatomy, Paracelsus Medical University Salzburg and Nuremberg, Salzburg, Austria

    • Felix Eckstein
    •  & Wolfgang Wirth
  3. Chondrometrics GmbH, Ainring, Germany

    • Felix Eckstein
    •  & Wolfgang Wirth
  4. Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia

    • Flavia Cicuttini
  5. Institute of Bone and Joint Research, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia

    • Lyn March
    •  & Marita Cross
  6. The George Institute for Global Health, Nuffield Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK

    • Terence Dwyer
  7. Clinical Research Centre, Zhujiang Hospital, Southern Medical University, Guangzhou, China

    • Changhai Ding


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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Changhai Ding or Benny Antony.

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