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Patterns of childhood body mass index (BMI), overweight and obesity in South Asian and black participants in the English National child measurement programme: Effect of applying BMI adjustments standardizing for ethnic differences in BMI-body fatness associations

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Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) records weight and height and assesses overweight-obesity patterns in English children using body mass index (BMI), which tends to underestimate body fatness in South Asian children and overestimate body fatness in Black children of presumed African ethnicity. Using BMI adjustments to ensure that adjusted BMI was similarly related to body fatness in South Asian, Black and White children, we reassessed population overweight and obesity patterns in these ethnic groups in NCMP.

METHODS:

Analyses were based on 2012–2013 NCMP data in 582 899 children aged 4–5 years and 485 362 children aged 10–11 years. Standard centile-based approaches defined weight status in each age-group before and after applying BMI adjustments for English South Asian and Black children derived from previous studies using the deuterium dilution method.

FINDINGS:

Among White children, overweight-obesity prevalences (boys, girls) were 23 and 21% respectively in 4–5 year-olds and 33 and 30% respectively in 10–11 year-olds. Before adjustment, South Asian children had lower overweight-obesity prevalences at 4–5 years (19%, 19%) and slightly higher prevalences at 10–11 years (42%, 34%), while Black children had higher overweight-obesity prevalences both at 4–5 years (31%, 29%) and 10–11 years (42%, 45%). Following adjustment, overweight-obesity prevalences were markedly higher in South Asian children both at 4–5 years (39%, 35%) and at 10–11 years (52%, 44%), while Black children had lower prevalences at 4–5 years (11%, 12%); at 10–11 years, prevalences were slightly lower in boys (32%) but higher in girls (35%).

INTERPRETATION:

BMI adjustments revealed extremely high overweight-obesity prevalences among South Asian children in England, which were not apparent in unadjusted data. In contrast, after adjustment, Black children had lower overweight-obesity prevalences except among older girls.

FUNDING:

British Heart Foundation, NIHR CLAHRC (South London), NIHR CLAHRC (North Thames).

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Population Health Research Institute, St George’s, University of London, London, UK

    • M T Hudda
    • , C M Nightingale
    • , A S Donin
    • , C G Owen
    • , A R Rudnicka
    • , D G Cook
    •  & P H Whincup
  2. Childhood Nutrition Research Centre, Population, Policy and Practice Programme, UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, London, UK

    • J C K Wells
  3. ECOHOST—The Centre for Health and Social Change, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK

    • H Rutter

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to M T Hudda.

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