Recent research warns that kids who have more fat around their midsections are at a greater risk of suffering heart disease in later life.
The study's researchers suggest that routine waist measurements in obese children could predict which ones had developed risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
"While general obesity certainly has its own set of risks for the heart, we now know that all fat is not created equally," said Dr. Reda Bassali, an associate professor of pediatrics in the Medical College of Georgia School of Medicine and lead author of the study
"What we are asking is whether the children with larger waists already showed signs that put them at higher risk.
"To find out whether children eventually developed cardiovascular disease, we'd have to follow them long term," Bassali added.
During the study, the researchers analysed188 obese children, ages 7-11, those with the largest waist circumferences.
They found that these kids were three times more likely to have high triglycerides and nearly four times more likely to have lower levels of HDL.
They were also 3.7 times more likely to have high fasting insulin levels.
"What that means is that children with a waist circumference at or above the 90th percentile are at a greater risk of developing the warning signs of cardiovascular disease," said Bassali.
"Our results indicate that routine clinical measurement of the waist may help clinicians identify which obese children are at a greater risk," the expert added.
However, researchers said why some people gain weight in the center of their body and others gain it, for instance, in their thighs is still unclear.
"It could be environmental. It could be genetic. It could be a combination of the two," Bassali added.
The study is published in the International Journal of Pediatric Obesity.