South Asian children have increased body fat in comparison to White children at the same Body Mass Index

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1) Background: The ability of Body Mass Index (BMI) to predict excess fat in South Asian children is unknown. This cross sectional study examined the influence of ethnicity on body fatness in children. 2) Methods: Weight status and body fat was determined using BMI, waist circumference, two skinfolds sites (SF: triceps and subscapula) and leg-to-leg Bioelectrical impedance analyser (BIA) (Tanita, BF350) in 194 aged 8.47±0.50 years from Coventry, UK. Biological maturity was also determined. 3) Results: ANCOVA identified significant differences between ethnic (P<0.001) and gender groups BMI (P=0.026), with a significant covariate for SF (P<0.001) and BIA (P<0.001). For a given body fat, South Asian children and females have a lower BMI value (-1.12kg/m2, P<0.001, -0.50kg/m2,P= 0.026, respectively when adjusted for SF), (-1.56 kg/m2, P<0.001, -0.31 kg/m2, P= 0.16, respectively when adjusted for BIA) compared with White children and boys. The prediction model including ethnicity, gender and BIA explained 80.4% of variance in BMI. Maturation was not found to be a significant covariate (P>0.05). 4) Conclusions: The findings suggest that BMI cut points may need to be lowered in South Asian children and thus age by sex by ethnic specific BMI cut points are needed in children. Further research examining body composition with health parameters in this population is needed.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102
Number of pages10
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 22 Nov 2017

Bibliographical note

This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (


  • ethnicity
  • adiposity
  • obesity
  • youth
  • subcutaneous fat


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