Relationship of anthropometric indices to abdominal and total body fat in youth: Sex and race differences


  • Funding agencies: The source of support for this study was provided by an NIH NIDDK grant # RC1DK086881-01 (P.T.K.). This project was also supported by a Nutrition Obesity Research Center (NIH 2P30DK072476) grant from the National Institutes of Health. P.T.K. is supported, in part, by the Marie Edana Corcoran Endowed Chair in Pediatric Obesity and Diabetes.

  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

  • Author contributions: TVB was involved in the study design, data analysis, literature search and generation of figures. PTK was involved in the study design. All authors were involved in data interpretation, writing the paper, and had final approval of the submitted and published versions.

  • Clinical Trial Registration: Anthropometric Assessment of Abdominal Obesity and Health Risk in Children and Adolescents; Registered May 7, 2012;; identifier NCT01595100.



To determine the influence of sex and race on relationships between anthropometry (body mass index [BMI], waist circumference [WC], waist-to-height ratio [W/Ht]) and adiposity (fat mass [FM], abdominal subcutaneous [SAT] and visceral adipose tissue [VAT]) in African American and white youth.


The sample included 382 youth 5-18 years of age. FM and abdominal adiposity were assessed using dual energy X-ray absorptiometry and magnetic resonance imaging. Regression was used to examine sex and race effects in the relationship between independent (BMI, WC, and W/Ht) and dependent (FM, SAT and VAT) variables.


BMI and WC were highly related to adiposity while W/Ht was moderately related. The association of BMI with FM and SAT was independent of sex and race, while the relationships of WC and W/Ht with FM and SAT were influenced by both sex and race. In contrast, the association between BMI and VAT was influenced by sex and race, while the relationships of WC and W/Ht with VAT were not.


WC and W/Ht have similar relationships with adiposity; however, WC presented stronger relationships. BMI is a predictor of overall adiposity but sex and race play a role in its relationship with VAT.