Open Access Research article

Correlations among adiposity measures in school-aged children

Caroline E Boeke123*, Emily Oken4, Ken P Kleinman4, Sheryl L Rifas-Shiman4, Elsie M Taveras4 and Matthew W Gillman4

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, 677 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115, USA

2 Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, 677 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115, USA

3 Channing Division of Network Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, 181 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115, USA

4 Department of Population Medicine, Obesity Prevention Program, Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute, 133 Brookline Avenue, 3rd Floor, Boston, MA 02215, USA

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Pediatrics 2013, 13:99  doi:10.1186/1471-2431-13-99

Published: 24 June 2013

Abstract

Background

Given that it is not feasible to use dual x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) or other reference methods to measure adiposity in all pediatric clinical and research settings, it is important to identify reasonable alternatives. Therefore, we sought to determine the extent to which other adiposity measures were correlated with DXA fat mass in school-aged children.

Methods

In 1110 children aged 6.5-10.9 years in the pre-birth cohort Project Viva, we calculated Spearman correlation coefficients between DXA (n=875) and other adiposity measures including body mass index (BMI), skinfold thickness, circumferences, and bioimpedance. We also computed correlations between lean body mass measures.

Results

50.0% of the children were female and 36.5% were non-white. Mean (SD) BMI was 17.2 (3.1) and total fat mass by DXA was 7.5 (3.9) kg. DXA total fat mass was highly correlated with BMI (rs=0.83), bioimpedance total fat (rs=0.87), and sum of skinfolds (rs=0.90), and DXA trunk fat was highly correlated with waist circumference (rs=0.79). Correlations of BMI with other adiposity indices were high, e.g., with waist circumference (rs=0.86) and sum of subscapular plus triceps skinfolds (rs=0.79). DXA fat-free mass and bioimpedance fat-free mass were highly correlated (rs=0.94).

Conclusions

In school-aged children, BMI, sum of skinfolds, and other adiposity measures were strongly correlated with DXA fat mass. Although these measurement methods have limitations, BMI and skinfolds are adequate surrogate measures of relative adiposity in children when DXA is not practical.

Keywords:
Adiposity; Obesity; DXA; BMI