BACKGROUND: Body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference (WC) are commonly used as quick, noninvasive indicators of adiposity. However, these measures can misrepresent the obesity or nutritional status of an individual. This is particularly true in athletes. Thus, it is important to have rapid, noninvasive, and portable methods of body composition measurement available. The purpose of this study was to determine if differences in BMI and WC between NJCAA female athletes with a healthy body fat percent (HBF) and those who are considered overfat (OBF). METHODS: Fourteen NJCAA female student-athletes at a two-year university participated in this study during the preseason. Height (cm) and weight (kg) were measured, and body mass index was calculated. Waist circumferences (cm) were measured at the narrowest part of the trunk between the xiphoid process and the umbilicus in triplicate and averaged. Tetrapolar BIA was conducted using the RJL Systems Quantum X. The participants were divided into either the HBF group (n=8, BF <32.0%) or the OBF group (n=6, >32.0%). Independent sample t-tests were used to compare BMI and WC means between groups. The level of significance was set at 0.05. RESULTS: There were significant differences between groups in BMI (HBF, 21.50 ± 1.64 kg/m2 vs. OBF, 24.22 ± 1.58 kg/m2, p=0.004) and WC (HBF, 67.62 ± 3.15 cm vs. OBF= 71.83 ± 3.82 cm, p=0.021). DISCUSSION: While it is not surprising that differences exist between the two groups in BMI and WC, the clinical interpretation of these values may be unexpected. The mean BMI for each group fell within the normal or healthy range of 18.5-24.9 kg/m2. Similarly, the WC average for the HBF group would be categorized as very low risk per ACSM standards (<71 cm) and the WC average for OBF group would be categorized as low (70-89 cm). Furthermore, given that the mean BMI for the OBF group was in the healthy range, the obesity status of some of these athletes was incorrectly classified. This often occurs when BMI misclassifies athletes due to high fat-free mass; however, it may be even more detrimental when it indicates that an athlete is healthy when they are actually overfat and/or under lean. This further confirms the need for body composition measures in a young, apparently healthy, athletic population. Supported by the Research and Productive Scholarship Grant.

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