Send to

Choose Destination
PLoS One. 2017 May 11;12(5):e0177175. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0177175. eCollection 2017.

Prediction of whole-body fat percentage and visceral adipose tissue mass from five anthropometric variables.

Author information

Institute of Sport, Physical Activity and Leisure, Leeds Beckett University, Headingley, Leeds, United Kingdom.
Health and Social Care Institute, Teesside University, Middlesbrough, United Kingdom.



The conventional measurement of obesity utilises the body mass index (BMI) criterion. Although there are benefits to this method, there is concern that not all individuals at risk of obesity-associated medical conditions are being identified. Whole-body fat percentage (%FM), and specifically visceral adipose tissue (VAT) mass, are correlated with and potentially implicated in disease trajectories, but are not fully accounted for through BMI evaluation. The aims of this study were (a) to compare five anthropometric predictors of %FM and VAT mass, and (b) to explore new cut-points for the best of these predictors to improve the characterisation of obesity.


BMI, waist circumference (WC), waist-to-hip ratio (WHR), waist-to-height ratio (WHtR) and waist/height0.5 (WHT.5R) were measured and calculated for 81 adults (40 women, 41 men; mean (SD) age: 38.4 (17.5) years; 94% Caucasian). Total body dual energy X-ray absorptiometry with Corescan (GE Lunar iDXA, Encore version 15.0) was also performed to quantify %FM and VAT mass. Linear regression analysis, stratified by sex, was applied to predict both %FM and VAT mass for each anthropometric variable. Within each sex, we used information theoretic methods (Akaike Information Criterion; AIC) to compare models. For the best anthropometric predictor, we derived tentative cut-points for classifying individuals as obese (>25% FM for men or >35% FM for women, or > highest tertile for VAT mass).


The best predictor of both %FM and VAT mass in men and women was WHtR. Derived cut-points for predicting whole body obesity were 0.53 in men and 0.54 in women. The cut-point for predicting visceral obesity was 0.59 in both sexes.


In the absence of more objective measures of central obesity and adiposity, WHtR is a suitable proxy measure in both women and men. The proposed DXA-%FM and VAT mass cut-offs require validation in larger studies, but offer potential for improvement of obesity characterisation and the identification of individuals who would most benefit from therapeutic intervention.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Public Library of Science Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center