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Am J Public Health. 1992 March; 82(3): 358–363.
PMCID: PMC1694353

Body fatness and risk for elevated blood pressure, total cholesterol, and serum lipoprotein ratios in children and adolescents.


BACKGROUND. Recent studies have shown considerable variation in body fatness among children and adolescents defined as obese by a percentile rank for skinfold thickness. METHODS. We examined the relationship between percent body fat and risk for elevated blood pressure, serum total cholesterol, and serum lipoprotein ratios in a biracial sample of 3320 children and adolescents aged 5 to 18 years. Equations developed specifically for children using the sum of subscapular (S) and triceps (T) skinfolds were used to estimate percent fat. The S/T ratio provided an index of trunkal fat patterning. RESULTS. Significant overrepresentation (greater than 20%) of the uppermost quintile (UQ) for cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors was evident at or above 25% fat in males (32.2% to 37.3% in UQ) and at or above 30% fat in females (26.6% to 45.4% in UQ), even after adjusting for age, race, fasting status, and trunkal fat patterning. CONCLUSIONS. These data support the concept of body fatness standards in White and Black children and adolescents as significant predictors of CVD risk factors. Potential applications of these obesity standards include epidemiologic surveys, pediatric health screenings, and youth fitness tests.

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