Ability of different adiposity indicators to identify children with elevated blood pressure

J Hypertens. 2011 Nov;29(11):2075-83. doi: 10.1097/HJH.0b013e32834be614.


Objective: Body composition measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) is believed to be superior to crude measures such as BMI or waist circumference (WC) to assess health risks associated with adiposity in adults. We compared the ability of BMI, WC, waist-to-height ratio (WHtR), percentage body fat from skinfold thickness, and measures of total and central fat assessed by DXA to identify children with elevated blood pressure (BP).

Study design: The QUALITY Study follows 630 Caucasian families (father, mother, and child originally aged 8-10 years). BP, height, weight, WC, and skinfold thickness were measured according to standardized protocols. Elevated BP was defined as systolic or diastolic BP at least 90th age, sex, and height-specific percentile. Total and central fat were determined with DXA. The area under the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve (AUC) statistic was computed from logistic models that adjusted for age, sex, height, Tanner stage, and physical activity.

Results: All adiposity indicators were highly correlated. WC and WHtR did not show superior ability over BMI to identify children with elevated SBP (P = 0.421 and 0.473). Measures of total and central fat from DXA did not show an improved ability over BMI or WC to identify children with elevated SBP (P = 0.325-0.662).

Conclusion: Results support the use of BMI in clinical and public health settings, at least in this age group. As all indicators had a limited ability to identify children with elevated BP, results also support measurement of BP in all children of this age independent of a weight status.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon / methods
  • Adiposity*
  • Adult
  • Anthropometry
  • Area Under Curve
  • Blood Pressure
  • Body Composition
  • Body Mass Index
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / diagnosis*
  • Hypertension / pathology
  • Male
  • ROC Curve
  • Treatment Outcome