Body fat is differentially related to body mass index in U.S.-born African-American and East African immigrant girls

Authors

  • Katie A. Meyer,

    Corresponding author
    1. Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota
    • Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, University of Minnesota, School of Public Health, 1300 South 2nd Street, Suite 300, Minneapolis, MN 55454, USA
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Ellen W. Demerath,

    1. Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Sarah Friend,

    1. Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Peter J. Hannan,

    1. Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Dianne Neumark-Sztainer

    1. Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota
    Search for more papers by this author

  • The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute of Diabetes and Kidney Diseases, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, or the National Institutes of Health.

Abstract

Objective:

To examine ethnic differences in adiposity at a given body mass index (BMI) in a sample of U.S.-born African-American and East African immigrant adolescent girls.

Methods:

In a sample of black adolescent girls (n = 79; ages 14–20) we compared measures of adiposity across the range of BMI-for-age among 55 U.S.-born African-American (mean BMI: 30.4; age: 15.4) and 24 East African immigrant girls (mean BMI: 21.8; age: 16.7). Fat and fat-free mass were assessed with dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA). We used spline regression to examine the distributions of fat mass index and percent body fat across the range of BMI-for-age z-scores.

Results:

Compared with African-American girls, East African girls were smaller on all body measures, but appeared to have higher fat mass index and percent body fat at the same BMI-for-age.

Conclusions:

Our findings indicate that at a given BMI East African immigrants may have greater adiposity than African-American girls. If corroborated in larger samples, our data suggest that the cardiometabolic risks attendant to elevated adiposity may affect East African girls at a lower BMI than in African-American girls. Am. J. Hum. Biol., 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

Ancillary