Objective: To (1) describe anthropometric and body-size measurements in the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Growth and Health Study (NGHS) population at baseline and (2) examine potential secular trends in the prevalence of obesity in young black and white girls by comparing NGHS baseline data with those of the two National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES I and II) (measured before the NGHS).
Design: Cross-sectional analysis of cohort baseline data.
Setting: Recruitment in selected schools (Cincinnati and Berkeley) and among the membership of a group health association (Westat).
Patients: Enrolled 2379 girls, 9 and 10 years of age, including 1213 black and 1166 white.
Measurements: Anthropometric measures, including height, weight, and triceps and subscapular skin folds. Body mass index was used as a measure of body size. Nine- and ten-year-old black girls were taller, heavier, and had larger skin folds than white girls. Compared with age-similar girls in the 1970s, girls in the present study are taller and heavier and have thicker skin folds. The differences in body size were most notable among black girls.
Conclusions: Black girls have a greater body mass than white girls even as young as 9 and 10 years of age. The prevalence of obesity appears to be increasing among young girls, especially in black girls. This progression, if not altered, could lead to increased disease in the future for adult women, particularly black women.