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Abstract

Reference percentiles (5th, 10th, 50th, 85th, 90th, and 95th) of black and nonblack children ages 8–17 years from Project HeartBeat! (n = 678) are presented for body mass index (BMI), percent body fat (PBF), fat-free mass (FFM), and fat mass (FM) derived from bioelectrical impedance. Project HeartBeat! is a mixed longitudinal study in which three cohorts of children (seen initially at age 8, 11, or 14 years) were followed for 4 years and measured thrice-yearly from 1991 through 1995. Weight, height, and BMI of Project HeartBeat! children are similar in central tendency and variability to those of nationally representative samples for nonblack children but not black children, for whom there is an excess of children at or above the 95th percentile for weight and BMI. Values of PBF above which cardiovascular risk variables increase (as suggested in the literature) are located at the 85th percentile of the Project HeartBeat! distributions. This percentile of PBF may be tentatively considered as a cutoff point with epidemiological significance for children. Am. J. Hum. Biol. 16:135–150, 2004. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.