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Am J Clin Nutr. 1997 Dec;66(6):1323-31.

Body composition of a young, multiethnic, male population.

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  • 1US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Children's Nutrition Research Center, Houston, TX 77030-2600, USA.


The study objective was to establish the range of total body-composition values for a young, multiethnic, healthy male population (aged 3-18 y) by using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA). Results for 297 males in three ethnic groups [European American (white), n = 145; African American (black), n = 78; and Mexican American (Hispanic), n = 74] are reported. Bone mineral content (BMC), lean tissue mass (LTM), body fat mass, and percentage fat are presented as functions of age. Analysis of variance with age, weight, and height as covariates was used to evaluate differences among the three ethnic groups. BMC and LTM were higher in black than in white males, but no difference in BMC or LTM was evident between the white and Hispanic groups. The relation between total-body BMC and LTM was linear (r = 0.985, P < 0.0001) and independent of age or ethnic classification. The Hispanic males had higher body fat values than the white group, whereas the black males generally had lower values than the white group. When adjusted for body size, the Hispanic males continued to have significantly higher body fat and percentage fat than the white or black males. Ethnic-specific equations for the prediction of body composition as a function of age, weight, and height were derived. The results for the white males in the present study were compared with DXA-derived reference data reported in other countries for young white males. We conclude that reference values of total body composition for young healthy males need to be ethnic specific.

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