Body circumferences as measures of body fat distribution in 10–14‐year‐old schoolchildren

William H. Mueller*, Anne Marbella, Ronald B. Harrist, Haley Jo Kaplowitz, Jo Anne Grunbaum, Darwin R. Labarthe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


In this paper the hypothesis is tested that circumferences are as useful as skinfolds in children aged 10–14 years to detect variation in regional fat distribution. This would be confirmed by the appearance of a significant canonical correlation between a vector of appropriately selected circumferences and an analogous vector of skinfolds, producing a weighted pattern suggestive of centralized obesity (that is a series of mathematical weights of different signs for central versus peripheral regions of the body). The hypothesis is confirmed (P < 0.01) in this sample of 378 children of both sexes. The association occurs in the second canonical correlation after a strong first canonical correlation providing information about fatness level (0.83–0.87). The canonical correlations are low (0.29 in boys, 0.36 in girls), lower than has previously been reported in a similar study of adults. The circumferences most heavily weighted in opposite directions are the waist and thigh. These results are in accord with adult studies. This study did not support the use of the waist‐hip circumference combination, the measures currently used in most epidemiologic studies of body fat distribution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)117-124
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Human Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Anthropology
  • Genetics


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