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News

Comparison of measures of body fat in adults

The latest issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition compares measures of body mass index, waist circumference, and waist-stature ratio in adults.

News image

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Body mass index, waist circumference, and the waist-stature ratio are considered to be possible proxies for adiposity.

Dr Katherine Flegal and colleagues from Maryland, USA investigated the relations between body mass body mass index, waist circumference, waist-stature ratio, and percentage body fat in 12,901 adults.

Percentage body fat was measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry in adults in a large nationally representative US population sample from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

Body mass index, waist circumference, waist-stature ratio were significantly more correlated with each other than with percentage body fat.

Over 90% could be placed within 1 category of percentage body fat by each measure
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

Percentage body fat tended to be significantly more correlated with waist circumference than with body mass index in men.

However, percentage body fat was significantly more correlated with body mass index than with waist circumference in women.

The research team found that waist-stature ratio tended to be slightly more correlated with percentage body fat than was waist circumference.

Percentile values of body mass index, waist circumference, and waist-stature ratio are shown that correspond to percentiles of percentage body fat increments of 5 percentage points.

The team noted that more than 90% of the sample could be categorized to within 1 category of percentage body fat by each measure.

Dr Flegal’s team concludes, “Body mass index, waist circumference, and waist-stature ratio perform similarly as indicators of body fatness and are more closely related to each other than with percentage body fat.”

“These variables may be an inaccurate measure of percentage body fat for an individual, but they correspond fairly well overall with percentage body fat within sex-age groups and distinguish categories of percentage body fat.”

Am J Clin Nutr 2009: 89(2); 500-8


22 January 2009

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