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Adjustment of fat-free mass and fat mass for height in children aged 8 y


Objective: To explore the relationships between height and (a) fat-free mass (FFM) and (b) fat mass (FM) in children in order to determine the optimum means of adjusting body composition for height.

Design: Cross-sectional study.

Subjects: Sixty-nine children aged 8 y.

Measurements and Methods: Weight and height (HT) were measured, and total body water by deuterium dilution for estimation of fat-free mass and fat mass. The indices FFM/HT2 and FM/HT2 were calculated, as were the indices FFM/HTp and FM/HTp where P was selected in order to eliminate the correlation of these indices with height.

Results: FFM was optimally adjusted for height by calculating FFM/HT2. FM was optimally adjusted by calculating FM/HT6. However, height accounted for <8% of the variation in FM/HT2, indicating that the bias of this simpler index is small.

Conclusions: Different adjustments of FFM and FM for height are possible, depending on the study design. The indices FFM/HT2 and FM/HT2 are appropriate for many purposes, and have the advantage of expressing both aspects of body composition in common units. However, in some scenarios a more sophisticated approach is required for evaluating body fatness.

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We are extremely grateful to all the mothers who took part and to the midwives for their cooperation and help in recruitment. The whole ALSPAC study team comprises interviewers, computer technicians, laboratory technicians, clerical workers, research scientists, volunteers and managers who continue to make the study possible. ALSPAC could not have been undertaken without the financial support of the Medical Research Council, the Wellcome Trust, the Department of Health, and the Department of the Environment. The ALSPAC study is part of the WHO initiated European Longitudinal Study of Pregnancy and Childhood

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Wells, J., Cole, T. & ALSPAC study team. Adjustment of fat-free mass and fat mass for height in children aged 8 y. Int J Obes 26, 947–952 (2002).

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  • body composition
  • body fat
  • deuterium
  • children

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