Estimation of Body Fat Percentage for Clinical Pharmacokinetic Studies in Children

Thomas P. Green*, Helen J. Binns, Huali Wu, Adolfo J. Ariza, Eliana M. Perrin, Maheen Quadri, Christoph P. Hornik, Michael Cohen-Wolkowiez

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Obesity is a prevalent childhood condition and the degree of adiposity appears likely to be an important covariate in the pharmacokinetics (PKs) of many drugs. We undertook these studies to facilitate the evaluation and, where appropriate, quantification of the covariate effect of body fat percentage (BF%) on PK parameters in children. We examined two large databases to determine the values and variabilities of BF% in children with healthy body weights and in those with obesity, comparing the accuracy and precision of BF% estimation by both clinical methods and demographically derived techniques. Additionally, we conducted simulation studies to evaluate the utility of the several methods for application in clinical trials. BF% was correlated with body mass index (BMI), but was highly variable among both children with healthy body weights and those with obesity. Bio-impedance and several demographically derived techniques produced mean estimates of BF% that differed from dual x-ray absorptiometry by < 1% (accuracy) and a SD of 5% or less (precision). Simulation studies confirmed that when the differences in precision among the several methods were small compared with unexplained between-subject variability of a PK parameter, the techniques were of similar value in assessing the contribution of BF%, if any, as a covariate for that PK parameter. The combination of sex and obesity stage explained 68% of the variance of BF% with BMI. The estimation of BF% from sex and obesity stage can routinely be applied to PK clinical trials to evaluate the contribution of BF% as a potential covariate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)509-517
Number of pages9
JournalClinical and Translational Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Neuroscience


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