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Keywords:

  • visceral fat;
  • anthropometry;
  • elderly;
  • DXA;
  • electron beam tomography

Abstract

Objective: To examine whether simple anthropometric measures provide a good estimate of total and visceral fat in 146 community-dwelling, older white women (mean age, 74.0 ± 4.1 years).

Research Methods and Procedures: Total body fat and visceral fat were measured using electron beam computed tomography (EBT). Anthropometric parameters (height, weight, BMI, sagittal diameter, and waist circumference) were measured using standard techniques. Total percentage body fat was assessed using DXA. Spearman correlations were used to examine the association between the measures. Linear regression, controlling for age, was used to examine the associations between the anthropometric parameters and total and visceral body fat measured by EBT.

Results: Correlations among body composition measures ranged from ρ = 0.46 to 0.93 (p < 0.0001). EBT total fat was strongly correlated with both DXA estimates of total percentage fat (ρ = 0.86) and BMI (ρ = 0.89). Separate linear regression models indicated that BMI, waist circumference, sagittal diameter, and DXA total percentage fat were each independently related to EBT total fat. BMI had the strongest linear relationship, explaining 80% of the model variance (p < 0.0001). Linear regression indicated that BMI, waist circumference, and sagittal diameter were each independently related to EBT visceral fat, with BMI and sagittal diameter explaining ∼53% of the model variance (p < 0.0001).

Discussion: The use of simple anthropometric measures such as BMI, sagittal diameter, and waist circumference may be an appropriate alternative for more expensive techniques when assessing total fat but should be used with caution when estimating visceral body fat.