Percentile curves for skinfold thickness for Canadian children and youth

PeerJ. 2016 Jul 21:4:e2247. doi: 10.7717/peerj.2247. eCollection 2016.


Background. Skinfold thickness (SFT) measurements are a reliable and feasible method for assessing body fat in children but their use and interpretation is hindered by the scarcity of reference values in representative populations of children. The objective of the present study was to develop age- and sex-specific percentile curves for five SFT measures (biceps, triceps, subscapular, suprailiac, medial calf) in a representative population of Canadian children and youth. Methods. We analyzed data from 3,938 children and adolescents between 6 and 19 years of age who participated in the Canadian Health Measures Survey cycles 1 (2007/2009) and 2 (2009/2011). Standardized procedures were used to measure SFT. Age- and sex-specific centiles for SFT were calculated using the GAMLSS method. Results. Percentile curves were materially different in absolute value and shape for boys and girls. Percentile girls in girls steadily increased with age whereas percentile curves in boys were characterized by a pubertal centered peak. Conclusions. The current study has presented for the first time percentile curves for five SFT measures in a representative sample of Canadian children and youth.

Keywords: Children; Growth; Obesity; Percentile curves; Skinfolds.

Grants and funding

This work was supported by an IWK Health Centre ( Establishment Grant awarded to Dr Stefan Kuhle (#09020) and an IWK Health Centre Research Associate Award awarded to Dr Jillian Ashley-Martin (#18396). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.