Ethnic variation in body composition assessment in a sample of adolescent girls

Katie A. Meyer, Sarah Friend, Peter J. Hannan, John H. Himes, Ellen W. Demerath, Dianne Neumark-Sztainer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Objective. To compare body composition assessment by bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) and dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) in a multiethnic sample of adolescent girls. Method. Data were from a physical activity intervention study among 254 1420-year-old sedentary American girls, including 69 whites, 74 blacks, 42 Hispanics, and 69 Asians. Height and weight were objectively measured. Body composition was assessed using a foot-to-foot BIA and a fan-beam DXA. We calculated ethnic-specific estimates of percentage body fat (BF%), fat mass (FM), fat mass index (FMI), fat-free mass (FFM), and fat-free mass index (FFMI) from BIA and DXA. We used Bland-Altman plots to examine ethnic-specific agreement between BIA and DXA, and used linear regression to test whether the BIA-DXA difference varied across the mean. Results. Compared to DXA, BIA estimates of fat measures (BF%, FM, and FMI) were lower and lean tissue measures (FFM and FFMI) higher. For example, the BIA-estimated BF% was lower than the DXA estimate by between 4.9% (95% CI: -5.9, -3.9) in blacks and 8.7% (-7.0, -5.0) in Asians, with large limits of agreement (-15.4 to -5.4 in blacks and -16.8 to -0.4 in Asians). Regression analysis showed that BIA-DXA differences were not constant across means for any body composition measure among Asians or for any measure except BF% among whites. Conclusion. Compared to DXA, BIA yielded lower estimates of adiposity in a multiethnic adolescent sample. BIA-DXA differences varied by ethnicity, and across mean body composition values for some ethnicities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)481-490
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Pediatric Obesity
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - Oct 2011


  • Adiposity
  • Adolescent
  • Bioelectrical impedance
  • Body composition
  • Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry
  • Ethnicity
  • Female
  • Race


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