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Ethnic and gender differences in body fat in British schoolchildren as measured by DXA
  1. Nicholas J Shaw (nick.shaw{at}bch.nhs.uk)
  1. Birmingham Children's Hospital, United Kingdom
    1. Nicola J Crabtree (nicola.crabtree{at}uhb.nhs.uk)
    1. Queen Elizabeth Hospital, United Kingdom
      1. Mohammed S Kibirige
      1. James Cook University Hospital, Middlesborough, United Kingdom
        1. John N Fordham
        1. James Cook University Hospital, Middlesborough, United Kingdom

          Abstract

          Background: There are known to be ethnic differences in body composition in adults which are related to ethnic differences in adult disease.

          Objectives: To evaluate gender and ethnic differences in percentage body fat in British schoolchildren and to compare these with classification of obesity using body mass index criteria.

          Design: A cross-sectional study of 1251 healthy children and adolescents aged 5 to 18 years from three ethnic groups, White, South Asian and African-Caribbean. Percentage body fat was determined by dual x-ray absorptiometry and the subjects classified using body mass index criteria for overweight and obesity.

          Results: Significant gender differences in percentage body fat were seen with girls having higher values from the age of 5 years. Girls had 3.8% higher percentage body fat at 5 years increasing to 12.9% at age 18 years. Significant ethnic differences were found with South Asian girls and boys having the highest percentage body fat from age 5 and 7 years respectively. These differences increased with age being most significant in the teenage years. Although South Asian girls and boys were overrepresented in a group containing children with more than 25% body fat (p < 0.0001 Chi-square) African-Caribbean subjects were more likely to be classified as obese using body mass index criteria.

          Conclusions: There are clear gender and ethnic differences in percentage body fat in British schoolchildren which may relate to known differences in the risk of Type 2 diabetes in adolescence and adulthood. Body mass index criteria for defining overweight and obesity do not accurately identify ethnic differences in body fat.

          • British schoolchildren
          • body fat
          • ethnic differences

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