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Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 1996 Jul;20(7):683-7.

The reallocation of body fat toward the abdomen persists to very old age, while body mass index declines after middle age in Chinese.

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Division of Epidemiology and Public Health, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan.



Age-specific distributions of several anthropometric measurements were examined to elucidate age-associated changes.


Community-based cross-sectional analysis, which was performed on anthropometric data collected from members of 2769 families from November 1991 to September 1993.


2776 Chinese men and 3176 non-pregnant Chinese women.


Age-specific values of several obesity indices, including a general obesity index (body mass index) and obesity indices at various parts of the body, including waist-to-hip ratio, waist circumference, hip circumference, arm circumference, triceps skinfold thickness and subscapular skinfold thickness.


The age-specific percentile values of weight, body mass index, arm circumference, triceps skinfold thickness, subscapular skinfold thickness and hip circumference showed a gradual increase with age up to middle age, but a decline subsequently. This 'up and then down' phenomenon occurred later in women than in men. On the other hand, age-specific percentile values of waist circumference and waist-to-hip ratio showed a steady increase with age from early life.


These data indicate that, in very old age, a greater amount of fat tends to accumulate in the abdominal region compared to the deposition in the younger age groups. This occurs despite a decrease in body weight and body mass index after middle age.

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