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Obesity (Silver Spring). 2016 Jan;24(1):245-9. doi: 10.1002/oby.21307. Epub 2015 Nov 23.

Body fatness charts based on BMI and waist circumference.

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Department of Economics, Deakin University, Burwood, Victoria, Australia.



To present percent body fat (PBF) charts based on body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference (WC) which can supplement current public health guidelines for obesity.


Based on data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) III for 18- to 65-year-olds, a semi-parametric spline approach was utilized, in which no specific functional forms for BMI and WC are assumed, to depict graphically the relationship between BMI, WC, and PBF. Four distinct PBF charts were created, categorized by gender and ethnicity which are based on data from 2,170 white females, 1,902 African American females, 1,905 white males, and 1,635 African American males.


PBF prediction based on the semi-parametric spline model outperformed competing linear models. For men, BMI is largely inconsequential, and WC plays a primary role in determining PBF levels. For women, the interaction between BMI and WC is more complex. To have low body fat, women would need to watch both their BMI and WC measurements carefully.


PBF charts, which incorporate information from three dimensions that are as simple to read as a BMI chart to help determine a person's level of fatness, were proposed.

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