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J Am Diet Assoc. 2008 Jan;108(1):136-9.

Predictive validity of four bioelectrical impedance equations in determining percent fat mass in overweight and obese children.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Nutrition, Wollongong Hospital, Wollongong, NSW, Australia.


Bioelectrical impedance equations are frequently used by food and nutrition professionals to estimate percent fat mass in overweight and obese children. However, it is not known whether they are accurate for such children, as they have been primarily developed for children of varying body weights. The aim of this cross-sectional study was to evaluate the predictive validity of four previously published prediction equations developed for the pediatric population, among a sample of overweight and obese children. Thirty overweight or obese children (mean age=7.57+/-1.28 years) underwent measurement of fat mass, percent fat mass, and fat-free mass using dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) and bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA). Impedance values from the BIA were entered into the four prediction equations and Pearson correlations used to determine the significance of associations between each of the BIA prediction equations and DEXA for percent fat mass, fat mass, and fat-free mass. For percent fat mass, paired t tests were used to assess differences between the methods and the technique of Bland and Altman was used to determine bias and error. Results showed that the mean percent fat mass as determined by DEXA for this age group was 40.79%. In comparison with other BIA prediction equations, the Schaefer equation had the closest mean value of 41.98%, and was the only equation not to significantly differ from the DEXA (P=0.121). This study suggests that the Schaefer equation is the only accurate BIA prediction equation for assessing percent fat mass in this sample of overweight and obese children from primarily white backgrounds.

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