Body composition assessment in American Indian children

Timothy G. Lohman, Benjamin Caballero, John H. Himes, Sally Hunsberger, Raymond Reid, Dawn Stewart, Betty Skipper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Although the high prevalence of obesity in American Indian children was documented in several surveys that used body mass index (BMI, in kg/m2) as the measure, there is limited information on more direct measurements of body adiposity in this population. The present study evaluated body composition in 81 boys (aged 11.2 ± 0.6 y) and 75 girls (aged 11.0 ± 0.4 y) attending public schools in 6 American Indian communities: White Mountain Apache, Pima, and Tohono O'Odham in Arizona; Oglala Lakota and Sicangu Lakota in South Dakota; and Navajo in New Mexico and Arizona. These communities were participating in the feasibility phase of Pathways, a multicenter intervention for the primary prevention of obesity. Body composition was estimated by using a combination of skinfold thickness and bioelectrical impedance measurements, with a prediction equation validated previously in this same population. The mean BMI was 20.4 ± 4.2 for boys and 21.1 ± 5.0 for girls. The sum of the triceps plus subscapular skinfold thicknesses averaged 28.6 ± 7.0 mm in boys and 34.0 ± 8.0 mm in girls. Mean percentage body fat was 35.6 ± 6.9 in boys and 38.8 ± 8.5 in girls. The results from this study confirmed the high prevalence of excess body fatness in school- age American Indian children and permitted the development of procedures, training, and quality control for measurement of the main outcome variable in the full-scale Pathways study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)764S-766S
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number4 SUPPL.
StatePublished - Apr 1999


  • Adiposity
  • American Indians
  • Bioelectrical impedance
  • Body composition
  • Body fat
  • Body mass index
  • Native Americans
  • Obesity
  • School-age children
  • Schoolchildren
  • Skinfold thickness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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