### Abstract

Background: Body mass index (BMI; weight (Wt)/height (Ht) (in kg m ^{-2}) and waist circumference (WC) are widely used as proxy anthropometric measures for total adiposity. Little is known about what scaling power of 'x' in both Wt(kg)/Ht(m)^{x} and WC(m)/Ht(m)^{x} is maximally associated with measured total body fat mass (TBFM). Establishing values for x would provide the information needed to create optimum anthropometric surrogate measures of adiposity.Objective: To estimate the value of 'x' that renders Wt/Ht x and WC/Ht x maximally associated with DXA-measured TBFM. Subjects: Participants of the NHANES 1999-2004 surveys, stratified by sex (men, women), race/ethnicity (non-Hispanic whites, non-Hispanic blacks, Mexican-Americans), and age(18-29, 30-49, 50-84years). Methods: We apply a grid search by increasing x from 0.0-3.0 by increments of 0.1 to the simple regression models, TBFM=b0+b1*(Wt/Ht x) and TBFM=b0+b1*(WC/Ht x) to obtain an estimate of x that results in the greatest R 2, taking into account complex survey design features and multiply imputed data. Results: R 2 's for BMI are 0.86 for men (N=6544) and 0.92 for women (N=6362). The optimal powers x for weight are 1.0 (R 2 =0.90) for men and 0.8 (R 2 =0.96) for women. The optimal power x for WC is 0, that is, no scaling of WC to height, for men (R 2 =0.90) or women (R 2 =0.82). The optimal powers for weight across nine combinations of race/ethnicity and age groups for each sex vary slightly (x=0.8-1.3) whereas the optimal scaling powers for WC are all 0 for both sexes except for non-Hispanic black men aged 18-29y (x=0.1). Although the weight-for-height indices with optimal powers are not independent of height, they yield more accurate TBFM estimates than BMI. Conclusion: In reference to TBFM, Wt/Ht and Wt/Ht 0.8 are the optimal weight-for-height indices for men and women, respectively, whereas WC alone, without Ht adjustment, is the optimal WC-for-height index for both sexes. Thus, BMI, an index independent of height, may be less useful when predicting TBFM.

Original language | English (US) |
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Pages (from-to) | 1154-1160 |

Number of pages | 7 |

Journal | International Journal of Obesity |

Volume | 37 |

Issue number | 8 |

DOIs | |

State | Published - Aug 1 2013 |

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### Keywords

- body composition
- optimal scaling
- total body fat mass
- waist circumference

### ASJC Scopus subject areas

- Medicine (miscellaneous)
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Nutrition and Dietetics

### Cite this

*International Journal of Obesity*,

*37*(8), 1154-1160. https://doi.org/10.1038/ijo.2012.201