Where should we measure waist circumference in clinically overweight and obese youth?

Authors

  • Matthew A Sabin,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Physiology, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
    2. Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, The Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
    3. Department of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
    • Correspondence: Dr Matthew Sabin, Department of Endocrinology and Diabetes, Royal Children's Hospital, Flemington Road, Parkville, Vic. 3052, Australia. Fax: 03 9345 6240; email: matt.sabin@rch.org.au

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  • Nicole Wong,

    1. Department of Physiology, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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  • Penny Campbell,

    1. Department of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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  • Katherine J Lee,

    1. Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, The Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
    2. Department of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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  • Zoë McCallum,

    1. Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, The Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
    2. Department of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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  • George A Werther

    1. Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, The Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
    2. Department of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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  • Conflict of interest: The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose. MAS wrote the first draft of the manuscript, and no honorarium, grant or any other form of payment was provided to produce this manuscript.
  • Disclosure: The authors have no financial relationships relevant to this article to disclose. There are no prior publications or submissions with any overlapping information, including studies and patients.

Abstract

Aims

Waist circumference (WC) measurement is a useful tool in the assessment of overweight/obese individuals, but standard measures may miss an apron of ‘overhanging’ fat (termed ‘panniculus’). The objective of this study was to assess whether, in clinically overweight/obese youth, ‘pannicular’ WC better correlates with fat mass than a standard WC measurement.

Methods

Standard and pannicular WC, alongside body composition (BC) measures, were collected from 181 consultations on 127 overweight and obese children/adolescents (52% male; mean (standard deviation) age 12.5 (3.4) years). Correlation coefficients describe associations between WC and measures of BC, and between ΔWC and ΔBC, while linear regression models assessed which of the WC measures explained more of the variability in BC and ΔBC over time.

Results

Standard and pannicular WC were highly correlated (r = 0.95). Correlation coefficients with measures of BC were generally greater for pannicular than standard WC, with greatest correlations seen for whole body (r = 0.94 vs. 0.85, respectively) and truncal (r = 0.86 vs. 0.77) fat mass. Furthermore, pannicular and Δpannicular WC explained more variability in truncal fat and Δtruncal fat than the standard measure of WC.

Conclusions

These data show that pannicular, rather than standard, WC measurements better correlate with absolute measures of fat mass, and their change over time, in clinically overweight/obese youth.

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