Anthropometric body fat composition reference values in Spanish adolescents. The AVENA Study

Eur J Clin Nutr. 2006 Feb;60(2):191-6. doi: 10.1038/sj.ejcn.1602285.


Objective: To determine reference values for body mass index (BMI), sum of six skinfolds (sigma6 skinfolds) and body fat percentage (BF%) in Spanish adolescents aged 13-18 years, included in the AVENA Study (Alimentación y Valoración del Estado Nutricional en Adolescentes: Food and Assessment of the Nutritional Status of Adolescents).

Design: Multicentre cross-sectional study.

Setting: Representative sample of Spanish adolescents.

Subjects: The population was selected by means of a multiplestep, simple random sampling. The final number of subjects included in the AVENA Study was 2859 adolescents; 2160 adolescents had a complete set of anthropometric measurements and were then included in this study (1109 males and 1051 females).

Interventions: Weight, height and six skinfold thicknesses were measured. As indices of total adiposity, we calculated BMI, summation sigma6 skinfolds and BF% with the formulas described by Slaughter et al.

Results: Sigma6 skinfolds and BF% in each age group were significantly higher in females than in males. In males, age showed a significant effect for BMI, sigma6 skinfolds and BF%; however, in females, the effect was only significant for BF%. The percentile distribution was more disperse towards higher sigma6 skinfolds and BF% values in males when compared with females.

Conclusions: The presented percentile values will help us to classify adolescents in comparison with a well-established reference population, and to estimate the proportion of adolescents with high or low adiposity amounts.

Sponsorship: The AVENA-Study was supported by the Spanish Ministry of Health (FIS 00/0015), and grants from Panrico SA, Madaus SA and Procter and Gamble SA. This study was also supported by Instituto de Salud Carlos III (Spain), RCESP (C03/09) and Spanish Ministry of Education (AP2003-2128).

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism*
  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Age Distribution
  • Anthropometry
  • Body Composition / physiology*
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity / classification
  • Obesity / etiology
  • Reference Values
  • Sex Distribution
  • Skinfold Thickness*
  • Spain