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Principal components analysis was used to study the amount and bodily distribution of subcutaneous fat in Tokelau Island children 5 to 17 years old and Tokelau children whose families had migrated to New Zealand ten years previously. The multivariate analysis revealed a fat component and three pattern components, all similar to those reported in a previous study of a South American population. Tokelau children who have migrated to New Zealand are not only more obese but their fat has also shifted away from the extremities and towards the trunk, as compared to children in the islands. The latter characteristic has a known association with diabetes and coronary heart disease. Migrant-island differences appear greatest in late childhood and adolescence. These periods during growth may be sensitive ones for the development of characteristics predisposing to the chronic diseases of adulthood.