Applicability of Body Composition Assessments for Children


Mastrangelo, M., Dean, R., Desmond, B., Pitcher, S., Rencher, A., Yau, A., The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, Galloway, NJ

Childhood obesity has been on the rise for the past three decades. Purpose: To determine the most applicable tool to assess obesity in children. Methods: A systematic review was conducted on the following tools: Dual-Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry (DEXA), Underwater Weighing (UW), Skinfold Calipers (SF), Body Mass Index (BMI), Air Displacement Plethysmography (ADP), Waist Circumference (WC), Weight-Height Growth Velocity, Height and Weight Centiles, Photonic Imaging, Near-Infrared Interactance, Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA), and Waist and Neck Circumference. Databases: EBSCO, PubMed, Medline, CINNAHL, Science Direct. Results: A variety of assessment tools to determine overweight and obesity in children were researched. Testing environment and the number of participants involved directly impact the most effective assessment tool. In a non-clinical setting with the need for quick results, e.g., a school system or field test, certain tools are more appropriate. Skin fold analysis predicts body composition whereas BMI is an indicator of obesity risk. Both tools are easy to use in a large group study. The tools found to be the most reliable and valid were DEXA and UW. The use of DEXA and UW for assessment of body composition are most effective in clinical studies. Conclusion: Assessment tools to predict overweight and obesity in children is dependent on the assessment environment. The tools with the highest reliability and validity are not feasible with large population study. BMI is an indicator of overweight and obesity and easy to use in a large population study. Researchers should determine the most practical tool to use to assess overweight and obesity based on equipment available and the size of the study population.

**Statement of Disclosure: No researchers received compensation for this project.

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