Population differences in the relationship between height, weight, and adiposity: An application of Burton's model

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    15 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    The study of human variation in adiposity and lean mass is important for understanding core processes in human evolution, and is increasingly a public health concern as the "obesity epidemic" expands globally. The dominant measure of population differences in adiposity is Body Mass Index (BMI), which suffers from systematic biases across populations due to variation in the relationship between true body fat, height and weight. Here we develop simplified corrections for such anthropometric-based measures of adiposity that can take into account this population variation. These corrections derive from a recent model proposed by Burton that assumes humans accrue mass in two ways - growth in height that adds bone and muscle, and growth in body fat and the ancillary fat-free mass (FFM) needed to support this additional body fat. We analyze two ethnically diverse datasets with dual X-ray absorptiometry-measured (DXA) fat mass, assessing the fit of Burton's model and deriving novel corrections based on estimated musculoskeletal slenderness. The resulting model provides excellent fit to fat mass within populations (average R2 = 0.92 for women and R2 = 0.83 for men). World populations differ dramatically in musculoskeletal slenderness (up to a difference of 4.4 kg/m 2), as do men and women (differences of 3.3-4.5 kg/m2), leading to clear population corrections. These findings point to a conceptually straightforward tool for estimating true differences in adiposity across populations, and suggest an alternative to BMI that provides a more accurate and theoretically based estimate of body fat than that traditionally derived from height and weight measures.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)68-76
    Number of pages9
    JournalAmerican Journal of Physical Anthropology
    Volume151
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    StatePublished - May 2013

    Fingerprint

    Adiposity
    Weights and Measures
    Adipose Tissue
    Population
    Fats
    Body Mass Index
    world population
    Body Height
    Bone Development
    Photon Absorptiometry
    public health
    Public Health
    Obesity
    Body Weight
    Muscles
    trend
    Growth

    Keywords

    • adiposity
    • body mass index
    • ethnicity
    • fat mass
    • height
    • human energetics
    • measurement
    • obesity

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Anthropology
    • Anatomy

    Cite this

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    abstract = "The study of human variation in adiposity and lean mass is important for understanding core processes in human evolution, and is increasingly a public health concern as the {"}obesity epidemic{"} expands globally. The dominant measure of population differences in adiposity is Body Mass Index (BMI), which suffers from systematic biases across populations due to variation in the relationship between true body fat, height and weight. Here we develop simplified corrections for such anthropometric-based measures of adiposity that can take into account this population variation. These corrections derive from a recent model proposed by Burton that assumes humans accrue mass in two ways - growth in height that adds bone and muscle, and growth in body fat and the ancillary fat-free mass (FFM) needed to support this additional body fat. We analyze two ethnically diverse datasets with dual X-ray absorptiometry-measured (DXA) fat mass, assessing the fit of Burton's model and deriving novel corrections based on estimated musculoskeletal slenderness. The resulting model provides excellent fit to fat mass within populations (average R2 = 0.92 for women and R2 = 0.83 for men). World populations differ dramatically in musculoskeletal slenderness (up to a difference of 4.4 kg/m 2), as do men and women (differences of 3.3-4.5 kg/m2), leading to clear population corrections. These findings point to a conceptually straightforward tool for estimating true differences in adiposity across populations, and suggest an alternative to BMI that provides a more accurate and theoretically based estimate of body fat than that traditionally derived from height and weight measures.",
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