Diagnostic accuracy of anthropometric indices in predicting excess body fat among seven to ten-year-old children

Edineia Aparecida Gomes Ribeiro, Danielle Biazzi Leal, Maria Alice Altenburg de Assis
Brazilian Journal of Epidemiology 2014, 17 (1): 243-54

PURPOSE: To evaluate the accuracy of the body mass index (BMI), waist circumference (WC) and waist-to-height ratio (WHtR) in detecting excess body fat among schoolchildren in Florianópolis, Santa Catarina.

METHODS: Cross-sectional study with 2,772 schoolchildren aged seven to ten years. Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) curves were used to compare the diagnostic accuracy of the BMI, the WC and the WHtR in identifying children with excess body fat (defined as values that were equal to or higher than the 90th percentile of the standardized residuals obtained from the sum of the four skinfolds thickness). Likelihood ratio estimates were used to select, for each anthropometric index, the cut-off points that presented the highest association with excess body fat.

RESULTS: The BMI, WC and WHtR performed well in detecting excess body fat, indicated by areas under the ROC curve (AUC) close to 1.0, with slightly higher AUC for the BMI in comparison to the WC and the WHtR concerning both sexes. Highly sensitive and specific cut-off points were derived for the three anthropometric indices. Sensitivity ranged from 85.7 to 92.9% for the BMI, from 78.6 to 89.7% for the WC, and from 78.6 to 89.2% for the WHtR. Specificity ranged from 83.2 to 91.4%, from 75.0 to 90.7%, and from 77.4 to 88.3% for the BMI, the WC and the WHtR, respectively.

CONCLUSION: BMI, WC and WHtR can be used as diagnostic tests to identify excess body fat in children from seven to ten years of age.

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