Body composition data for individuals 8 years of age and older: U.S. population, 1999-2004

Vital Health Stat 11. 2010 Apr;(250):1-87.


Objectives: This report presents body composition data from whole body dual energy x-ray absorptiometry scans for persons 8 years of age and older who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 1999-2004. Valid total body measurements were obtained on 16,973 individuals. Through the use of multiple imputation, a useable sample of 22,010 individuals was achieved for analysis. Measures for the total body and regions of the body include total mass, fat mass, percentage fat, lean soft tissue (excluding bone mineral content), and fat-free mass (including bone mineral content).

Methods: Means, standard errors, and selected percentiles were calculated for the total body and for regions of the body by sex, race and ethnic, and age population subgroups. Standard errors of the mean were estimated by Taylor Series Linearization, which incorporates sample weights and accounts for the NHANES complex sample design.

Results: Females had higher percentage body fat and fat mass than males. After age 11 years, males had higher lean tissue and fat-free mass than females. Percentage body fat was lowest at ages 16-19 years among males and at ages 8-15 years among females. Among males, non-Hispanic white persons had greater fat mass than either Mexican American or non-Hispanic blacks. Among females, non-Hispanic black persons had greater fat mass than either Mexican American or non-Hispanic whites. Mexican-American males and females had less lean soft tissue than either non-Hispanic white or non-Hispanic black males and females. Among both males and females, lean soft tissue and fat-free mass were lowest at ages 8-11 years.

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Adiposity / ethnology*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • African Americans
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Body Composition*
  • Child
  • European Continental Ancestry Group
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mexican Americans
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Sex Distribution
  • United States / epidemiology