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Waist circumference centiles for UK South Asian children
  1. Mahjabeen Shah,
  2. Dimple Radia,
  3. Huw David McCarthy
  1. School of Human Sciences, London Metropolitan University, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Mahjabeen Shah, School of Life Sciences, Kingston University, London KT1 2EE, UK; mahjabeen.shah{at}


Objectives To develop waist circumference (WC) centile curves for UK South Asian children, to make comparisons with published centiles for British, indigenous Indian and Pakistani children, as well as to make anthropometric comparisons with their UK white peers.

Design Cross-sectional study.

Setting School-aged children from London boroughs (main measures: 2004–2007).

Participants 1562 (652 boys, 910 girls) UK South Asian and 1120 (588 boys, 532 girls) UK white children aged 4.0–13.9 years.

Interventions WC, height, weight and body mass index (BMI).

Main outcome measures The outcome measures were smoothed WC centile curves, constructed using the LMS (L = skewness, M = median, S = coefficient of variation) method. SD scores (SDS) were generated using UK90 and British (WC) growth references.

Results WC increased with age for both sexes, rising more steeply at the upper centiles after the age of 6 years. Overall, UK South Asian children, similar to indigenous South Asian populations, had higher WC values than the British WC references. However, compared with their UK white peers, UK South Asian children had significantly (p<0.001) lower mean WC (UK white SDS=0.74 and SDS=0.64 vs UK South Asian SDS=0.32 and SDS=0.21 for boys and girls, respectively). Obesity prevalence was greater using WC than BMI for both ethnicities. At the 90th centile, for UK South Asian children, prevalence was 21.5% vs 24.4% for boys and 17% vs 24.5% for girls based on BMI and WC, respectively.

Conclusions These curves represent the first WC centiles for UK South Asian children up to the age of 14 years. With a continued rise in childhood obesity, they provide a useful historical control for future comparisons.

  • obesity
  • South Asian children and adolescents
  • waist circumference
  • percentiles
  • abdominal adiposity

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  • Contributors MS was the main author who conducted this study. HDM conceived and designed the study, and assisted with the analysis and interpretation of the data and with writing the manuscript. DR was involved in the fieldwork and collection of the data.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval Ethical approval was obtained from the London Metropolitan University’s Ethics Committee. Consent forms, letters of invitation and information packs were distributed to interested participants, with signed parental consent, together with child assent, required for participation in this study.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement No additional data from the study are available.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.