NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - A long-term study has found that skinfold thickness during adolescence is a better predictor of being overweight as an adult than adolescent body mass index (BMI) — the ratio of weight to height commonly used to classify an individual as over-, under- or normal-weight.
Measuring skinfold thickness “should be the preferred screening tool” to identify adolescents at increased risk of becoming overweight adults, the authors conclude.
The 168 men and 182 women who participated in the Amsterdam Growth and Health Longitudinal Study provided 8 measurements of BMI and skinfold thickness between 1976 and 2000.
Dr. Astrid C. Nooyens from VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, and colleagues analyzed BMI and skinfold thickness during adolescence in relation to adult body weight measured at a mean age of 37 years.
According to a report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, none of the boys were overweight at baseline, and 1.7 percent of the girls were, while 29 percent and 32 percent, respectively, were overweight as adults.
At the ages of 12 to 16 years, skinfold thickness was more strongly associated with adult body fatness than was BMI, Nooyens and colleagues report.
Adolescents with the thickest skinfold test results had about 2 times the relative risk of becoming an overweight adult, in comparison with adolescents with the highest BMI, they note.
“As early as the age of 13 years, a difference in mean skinfold thickness was present between adolescents who did and did not become adults with high body fatness, which indicates that weight-gain prevention should start before adolescence,” the authors also note.
SOURCE: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, June 2007.