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Am J Epidemiol. 2010 Dec 15;172(12):1442-54. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwq306. Epub 2010 Oct 15.

Comparison of dual-energy x-ray absorptiometric and anthropometric measures of adiposity in relation to adiposity-related biologic factors.

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Channing Laboratory, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


Dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) can provide accurate measurements of body composition. Few studies have compared the relative validity of DXA measures with anthropometric measures such as body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference (WC). The authors compared correlations of DXA measurements of total fat mass and fat mass percent in the whole body and trunk, BMI, and WC with obesity-related biologic factors, including blood pressure and levels of plasma lipids, C-reactive protein, and fasting insulin and glucose, among 8,773 adults in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (1999-2004). Overall, the magnitudes of correlations of BMI and WC with the obesity-related biologic factors were similar to those of fat mass or fat mass percent in the whole body and trunk, respectively. These observations were largely consistent across different age, gender, and ethnic groups. In addition, in both men and women, BMI and WC demonstrated similar abilities to distinguish between participants with and without the metabolic syndrome in comparison with corresponding DXA measurements. These data indicate that the validity of simple anthropometric measures such as BMI and WC is comparable to that of DXA measurements of fat mass and fat mass percent, as evaluated by their associations with obesity-related biomarkers and prevalence of metabolic syndrome.

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