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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2005 Jul;99(1):103-7. Epub 2005 Mar 17.

Korean and Caucasian overweight premenopausal women have different relationship of body mass index to percent body fat with age.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Obesity Research Center, St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital and College of Physicians & Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, NY 10025, USA.


The aim of the study was to investigate in premenopausal women whether the relationship between percentage body fat (PBF) and body mass index (BMI; in kg/m2) differs between Korean Asians (Ko-As) living in Seoul, South Korea, and Caucasians (Ca) living in New York City. Healthy premenopausal women (50 Ko-As; 38 Ca), ages 22-50 yr, were studied. Weight, height, and PBF by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry were measured. Total body dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry data were collected using GE-Lunar systems (Prodigy-Korea and DPXL-New York), and all scan analyses were performed by one technician in New York. Similar soft tissue phantoms were used for daily instrument calibrations at both sites. The relationship between PBF and BMI was assessed by multiple regression analysis with race, age, reciprocal of BMI (1/BMI), and a race-by-age interaction as the final independent variables. Race (P = 0.003) and 1/BMI (P < 0.001) were significantly related to PBF in this model. A significant race-by-age interaction (P = 0.039) indicated that the slope of the lines for PBF vs. age differed between Ko-As and Ca. This study demonstrates in a Ko-As sample that the BMI-fat relationship differs significantly from that in a comparable group of Caucasian women. Investigators who use BMI as an index of fatness should be aware of the well documented differences in the relationship of BMI and fatness across race/ethnic groups.

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