Validity of BMI as a measure of obesity in Australian white Caucasian and Australian Sri Lankan children

Wickramasinghe, V. P., Cleghorn, G. J., Edmiston, K. A., Murphy, A. J., Abbott, R. A., & Davies, P. S. W. (2005) Validity of BMI as a measure of obesity in Australian white Caucasian and Australian Sri Lankan children. Annals of Human Biology, 32(1), pp. 60-71.

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Background: Body mass index (BMI) is used to diagnose obesity. However, its ability to predict the percentage fat mass (%FM) reliably is doubtful. Therefore validity of BMI as a diagnostic tool of obesity is questioned. Aim: This study is focused on determining the ability of BMI-based cut-off values in diagnosing obesity among Australian children of white Caucasian and Sri Lankan origin. Subjects and methods: Height and weight was measured and BMI (W/H2) calculated. Total body water was determined by deuterium dilution technique and fat free mass and hence fat mass derived using age- and gender-specific constants. A %FM of 30% for girls and 20% for boys was considered as the criterion cut-off level for obesity. BMI-based obesity cut-offs described by the International Obesity Task Force (IOTF), CDC/NCHS centile charts and BMI-Z were validated against the criterion method. Results: There were 96 white Caucasian and 42 Sri Lankan children. Of the white Caucasians, 19 (36%) girls and 29 (66%) boys, and of the Sri Lankans 7 (46%) girls and 16 (63%) boys, were obese based on %FM. The FM and BMI were closely associated in both Caucasians (r = 0.81, P<0.001) and Sri Lankans (r = 0.92, P<0.001). Percentage FM and BMI also had a lower but significant association. Obesity cut-off values recommended by IOTF failed to detect a single case of obesity in either group. However, NCHS and BMI-Z cut-offs detected cases of obesity with low sensitivity. Conclusions: BMI is a poor indicator of percentage fat and the commonly used cut-off values were not sensitive enough to detect cases of childhood obesity in this study. In order to improve the diagnosis of obesity, either BMI cut-off values should be revised to increase the sensitivity or the possibility of using other indirect methods of estimating the %FM should be explored.

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ID Code: 87211
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: No
DOI: 10.1080/03014460400027805
ISSN: 1464-5033
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Exercise & Nutrition Sciences
Copyright Owner: Taylor & Francis
Deposited On: 02 Sep 2015 03:36
Last Modified: 03 Sep 2015 02:36

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