BMI fails to reflect the developmental changes in body fatness between boys and girls during adolescence

Alan M. Nevill, Cézane Priscila Reuter, Caroline Brand, Anelise Reis Gaya, Jorge Mota, Jane Dagmar Pollo Renner, Michael J. Duncan

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    3 Citations (Scopus)
    48 Downloads (Pure)


    Body mass index (BMI) is thought to reflect excess adiposity in both youth and adults alike. However, the association between BMI and fatness varies, especially as children grow into adults. Thus, the present study sought to address this issue by characterizing how BMI reflects age and sex differences in body fatness in 7–16-year-old children. Methods: This cross-sectional study was conducted with 2150 children and adolescents, aged 7 to 16 years from the city of Santa Cruz do Sul, Brazil. BMI (kg/m2), and percentage body fat, using tricipital and subscapular folds, were assessed. For statistical analysis, ANOVA and ANCOVA were used. Results: When considered in isolation, there was no significant interaction in the age-by-sex differences in BMI (p = 0.69). However, when we controlled for percent body fatness, the analysis revealed considerable age-by-sex differences in BMI (p < 0.001). Conclusion: For the same body fat (%), there are no differences in BMI in children < 10 years.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number7833
    JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
    Issue number15
    Publication statusPublished - 23 Jul 2021

    Bibliographical note

    Funding Information:
    Funding: This research received no external funding from the Higher Education Personnel Improvement Coordination—Brazil (CAPES), National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) and Research Support Foundation of the State of Rio Grande do Sul.

    Publisher Copyright:
    © 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


    • Anthropometry
    • Growth
    • Obesity
    • Overweight
    • Paediatrics

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Pollution
    • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
    • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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