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N Z Med J. 2004 Dec 17;117(1207):U1203.

Body size, body composition, and fat distribution: a comparison of young New Zealand men of European, Pacific Island, and Asian Indian ethnicities.

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Faculty of Health, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand.



To investigate body size and body fat relationships and fat distribution in young healthy men drawn from New Zealand European, Pacific Island, and Asian Indian populations.


A total of 114 healthy men (64 European, 31 Pacific Island, 19 Asian Indian) aged 17-30 years underwent measurements of height, weight, and body composition by total body dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA). Body mass index (BMI) was then calculated. Percent body fat (%BF), fat-free mass, bone mineral content, bone mineral density, abdominal fat, thigh fat, and appendicular skeletal muscle mass (ASMM) were obtained from the DXA scans.


For the same BMI, %BF for Pacific Island men was 4% points lower and for Asian Indian men was 7-8% points higher compared to Europeans. Compared to European men for the same %BF, BMI was 2-3 units higher for Pacific Island, and 3-6 units lower for Asian Indian. The ratio of abdominal fat to thigh fat, adjusted for height, weight, and %BF, was significantly higher for Asian Indian men than European (p=0.022) and Pacific Island (p=0.002) men. ASMM, adjusted for height and weight, was highest in Pacific Island and lowest in Asian Indian men.


The relationship between %BF and BMI is different for European, Pacific Island, and Asian Indian men which may, at least in part, be due to differences in muscularity. Asian Indians have more abdominal fat deposition than their European and Pacific Island counterparts. Use of universal BMI cut-off points are not appropriate for comparison of obesity prevalence between these ethnic groups.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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