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J Am Diet Assoc. 1999 Aug;99(8):955-61.

Anthropometric characteristics of Mohawk children aged 6 to 11 years: a population perspective.

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  • 1University of Montréal, Québec, Canada.



Recent studies have concluded that Native North American children have higher proportions of overweight and obesity than children from the general North American population. This study presents anthropometric data on a representative sample of children from the Mohawk Nation that can be used for comparison with other Native American populations.


This is a cross-sectional study comparing distributions of anthropometric characteristics of Mohawk children to the corresponding age and gender data from the Second National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES II). Weight, height, triceps and subscapular skinfold thickness, and waist and hip circumferences were measured in 527 children.


All children in grades 1 to 6 (aged 6 to 11 years) in the 3 elementary schools of 2 Mohawk communities in Canada, for whom parental consent was obtained, were enrolled in the present study. There were no exclusion criteria. With a participation rate of 83%, the 527 children enrolled in this study represent an unbiased sample of the population from 2 Mohawk territories.


Compared with children studied in NHANES II, Mohawk children were similar in height and triceps skinfolds but were generally heavier, had thicker subscapular skinfolds, and had greater waist and hip circumferences. These differences were greater in older children. Mohawk children who had extreme-high weight values compared with their population means were heavier than their NHANES II counterparts.


Results indicated that, on average, Mohawk children seem to be slightly heavier than children in NHANES II. Except for those with extreme overweight values, Mohawk children show less variation of weight and body mass index than children in NHANES II. Finally, overweight Mohawk children seem to be more likely to carry their excess body fat truncally, compared with overweight children from NHANES II. Health practitioners working with Native American populations should be careful when assessing childhood obesity. Simple comparisons of weight or body mass index with NHANES standards may lead to inappropriate risk assessments.

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