Online Program

Relationship between body mass index and adiposity: Comparison of ethnic differences in urban college females

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Judy Zheng, Bachelors in Nutrition and Food Science, School of Public Health, Department of Nutrition and Food Science, Hunter College, New York, NY
Khursheed Navder, PhD, RDN, FAND, BS/MS Nutrition Program, Hunter College, The City University of New York (CUNY), New York, NY
Katarzyna Wyka, PhD, Epidemiology and Biostatistics, CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy, New York
Body Mass Index (BMI) has been used to diagnose obesity and it is often used as a surrogate estimate of body fat because of its ease of measurement, non-invasive nature and low cost. This study tested the hypothesis that BMI is representative of body fatness independent of age and ethnicity in college females. A total of 336 undergraduate female students from a major urban university participated in the study (Mean age =23.69 (SD=5.25); Caucasians 44.3%, Asians 30.1%, African-Americans 13.1% and Hispanics 12.5%). Age-adjusted multiple linear regression models were utilized to assess ethnic differences in the relationship between BMI (independent variable) and Fat Mass (FM) as well as Percent Body Fat (PBF) (dependent variables).  Overall, BMI was significantly associated with FM (R² = 82%, p<.001) and PBF (R² = 63%, p<.001). Thus, BMI alone explained 82% and 63% of the between-individual differences in FM and PBF, respectively. Ethnicity explained another 1% of variance in FM (R² = 83%, P<.001) and 2% variance in PBF (R² = 65%, p<.001).Specifically,  Asians had significantly lower age-BMI adjusted FM and PBF as compared to Caucasians (FM β=-4.37, p<. 001; PBF β=-2.18 p<.010) and African-Americans (FM β=-6.00, p<.001, PBF β=-4.02, p<.001). No difference was observed between any other ethnic groups. The results of this study support the recommendation that BMI can be used as a surrogate estimate of FM and PBF. However, caution is warranted when applying BMI across ethnic groups.

Learning Areas:

Diversity and culture
Other professions or practice related to public health
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Evaluate BMI as a surrogate estimate of Fat Mass and Percent Body Fat in college females across ethnic groups.

Keyword(s): Obesity, Asian Americans

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Not Answered