Association between regional brain volumes and BMI z-score change over one year in children

Travis D. Masterson, Carly Bobak, Kristina M. Rapuano, Grace E. Shearrer, Diane Gilbert-Diamond

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3 Scopus citations


Purpose Associations between brain region volume and weight status have been observed in children cross-sectionally. However, it is unclear if differences in brain region volume precede weight gain. Methods Two high-quality structural brain images were obtained approximately one year apart in 53 children aged 9–12 years old. Children’s height and weight were also measured at each scan. Structural images were processed using the FreeSurfer software-package providing volume measures for regions of interest including the entorhinal cortex, nucleus accumbens, and hippocampus. Age- and sex-adjusted BMI z-scores (BMIz) were calculated at both timepoints. The association between brain region volume and BMIz was examined cross-sectionally using linear regression and longitudinally using structural equation modeling. All models were adjusted by estimated cranial volume to account for individual variation in head size and were corrected for multiple comparisons (pFDR<0.05). Results The sample of children was primarily healthy weight at baseline (79.78%). Cross-sectionally at the one-year follow-up, a positive relationship was observed between right hippocampal volume and BMIz (β = 0.43, 95% CI = (0.10, 0.77)). Longitudinally a negative relationship was observed between right entorhinal volume at baseline and BMIz at the one-year followup (β = −0.25, 95% CI = (−0.44, −0.07)). Conclusion These results suggest that measured volumes from certain regions of the brain that have been associated with BMI in adults are associated with both concurrent BMIz and BMIz change over one-year in a primarily healthy weight sample of children. As the entorhinal cortex integrates signals from both reward and control regions, this region may be particularly important to weight management during child development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0221995
JournalPloS one
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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