Objective: To compare percentage body fat (%BF) for a given body mass index (BMI) among New Zealand European, Maori and Pacific Island children. To develop prediction equations based on bioimpedance measurements for the estimation of fat-free mass (FFM) appropriate to children in these three ethnic groups.
Design: Cross-sectional study. Purposive sampling of schoolchildren aimed at recruiting three children of each sex and ethnicity for each year of age. Double cross-validation of FFM prediction equations developed by multiple regression.
Setting: Local schools in Auckland.
Subjects: Healthy European, Maori and Pacific Island children (n=172, 83 M, 89 F, mean age 9.4+/-2.8(s.d.), range 5-14 y).
Measurements: Height, weight, age, sex and ethnicity were recorded. FFM was derived from measurements of total body water by deuterium dilution and resistance and reactance were measured by bioimpedance analysis.
Results: For fixed BMI, the Maori and Pacific Island girls averaged 3.7% lower %BF than European girls. For boys a similar relation was not found since BMI did not significantly influence %BF of European boys (P=0.18). Based on bioimpedance measurements a single prediction equation was developed for all children: FFM (kg)=0.622 height (cm)(2)/resistance+0.234 weight (kg)+1.166, R(2)=0.96, s.e.e.=2.44 kg. Ethnicity, age and sex were not significant predictors.
Conclusions: A robust equation for estimation of FFM in New Zealand European, Maori and Pacific Island children in the 5-14 y age range that is more suitable than BMI for the determination of body fatness in field studies has been developed.