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The hypothesis that subscapular and triceps subcutaneous fat respond differently to changes in the nutritional environment is tested on a sample of urban Guatemalan children of high and low socioeconomic status (SES ). The low SES children suffered from chronic moderate energy undernutrition. The high SES children were well nourished. The amount of subcutaneous fat at both the subscapular and triceps sites was reduced in the low SES sample. However, the relative and absolute amount of reduction was greater for the triceps site than the subscapular site. There was also an effect of sex: the low SES boys demonstrated a greater reduction in subscapular skinfolds than the low SES girls. It is argued that subcutaneous trunk fat plays a more direct role in human physiology, especially in female physiology, and is less susceptable to environmental modification than extremity fat. Human populations differ in the degree to which they alter their fat patterning in response to environmental changes and understanding these differences may help delineate the processes of nutritional adaptation and adipose-related disease etiology.