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Correlates of adiposity in a Caribbean pre-school population

Ramcharitar-Bourne, Anisa, Nichols, Selby, Badrie, Neela
Public health nutrition 2014 v.17 no.8 pp. 1796-1804
Africans, World Health Organization, abdominal fat, adiposity, arm circumference, bioelectrical impedance, boys, childhood, girls, preschool children, religion, schools, variance, waist circumference, Caribbean
To evaluate ethnic and anthropometric correlates of adiposity among a nationally representative, multi-ethnic, Trinidadian pre-school population. Cross-sectional study conducted between June 2008 and July 2009. Government and privately owned Early Childhood Care and Education Centres in Trinidad. A total of 596 pre-school children (aged 31–73 months) from thirty-four schools had their weight, height, mid-upper arm circumference, waist circumference, biceps and triceps skinfold thicknesses measured by a registered dietitian using standard procedures. Percentage body fat was estimated using a foot-to-foot bioelectric impedance analyser (Tanita 531, Tokyo, Japan). Date of birth, religion and ethnicity were extracted from school records and pre-schoolers’ ethnicity was categorized as East Indian, African, Mixed (a combination of two or more ethnicities), Chinese or Caucasian. Anthropometric variables explained significantly more of the variance in adiposity among girls (67·4–88·1 %) than boys (24·4–39·2 %; P < 0·0 0 1). Pre-schoolers of African descent were significantly taller, heavier and had higher abdominal fat and mid-upper arm circumference than their East Indian and Mixed counterparts (all P < 0·001). The overall prevalence of excess adiposity (≥25 % body fat) as determined by bioelectrical impedance was 14·6 %, while 2·9 % of the children were undernourished according to WHO weight-for-age criteria. Differences in anthropometry were non-existent between children attending government and private pre-schools. Gender, ethnicity and anthropometry all explained excess adiposity in these pre-schoolers. These findings highlight the need to elucidate the mechanisms that may be involved in explaining these differences, particularly those of ethnic origin.