Body composition estimation using skinfolds in children with and without health conditions affecting growth and body composition

Danielle Wendel, David Weber, Mary B. Leonard, Sheela N. Magge, Andrea Kelly, Virginia A. Stallings, Mary Pipan, Nicolas Stettler, Babette S. Zemel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Background: Body composition prediction equations using skinfolds are useful alternatives to advanced techniques, but their utility across diverse paediatric populations is unknown. Aim: To evaluate published and new prediction equations across diverse samples of children with health conditions affecting growth and body composition. Subjects and methods: Anthropometric and dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) body composition measures were obtained in children with Down syndrome (n = 59), Crohn disease (n = 128), steroid-sensitive nephrotic syndrome (n = 67) and a healthy reference group (n = 835). Published body composition equations were evaluated. New equations were developed for ages 3–21 years using the healthy reference sample and validated in other groups and national survey data. Results: Fat mass (FM), fat-free mass (FFM) and percentage body fat (%BF) from published equations were highly correlated with DXA-derived measures (r = 0.71–0.98), but with poor agreement (mean difference = 2.4 kg, −1.9 kg and 6.3% for FM, FFM and %BF). New equations produced similar correlations (r = 0.85–1.0) with improved agreement for the reference group (0.2 kg, 0.4 kg and 0.0% for FM, FFM and %BF, respectively) and in sub-groups. Conclusions: New body composition prediction equations show excellent agreement with DXA and improve body composition estimation in healthy children and those with selected conditions affecting growth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)108-120
Number of pages13
JournalAnnals of Human Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 17 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Crohn’s disease
  • Down syndrome
  • Fat mass
  • fat-free mass
  • percentage body fat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Physiology
  • Aging
  • Genetics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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