Author(s): Flegal KM, Ogden CL, Wei R, Kuczmarski RL, Johnson CL
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Abstract BACKGROUND: Several different sets of reference body mass index (BMI) values are available to define overweight in children. OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to compare the prevalence of overweight in US children calculated with 3 sets of reference BMI values: the revised growth charts of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC-US growth charts), international standards proposed by Cole et al, and values developed by Must et al. DESIGN: Data for children and adolescents came from cross-sectional nationally representative US surveys: cycles II and III of the National Health Examination Survey (1963-1965 and 1966-1970) and the first, second, and third National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys: NHANES I (1971-1974), II (1976-1980), and III (1988-1994). The reference values of Cole et al equivalent to a BMI of 25 were compared with the 85th percentiles from the other 2 methods; the values equivalent to a BMI of 30 were compared with the 95th percentiles. RESULTS: The 3 methods gave similar but not identical results. The reference values of Cole et al gave lower estimates than did the CDC-US growth charts for young children but higher estimates for older children. The reference values of Must et al gave much higher prevalences for younger girls than did the other 2 methods. CONCLUSIONS: Differences between methods were related to differences in data sets, smoothing methods, and theoretical approaches. All 3 methods are based on statistical criteria and incorporate arbitrary assumptions. These methods should be used cautiously, with awareness of the possible limitations.
This article was published in Am J Clin Nutr
and referenced in Journal of Obesity & Weight Loss Therapy