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Large differences in the prevalence of normal weight obesity using various cut-offs for excess body fat
e-SPEN, the European e-Journal of Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism
BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Normal weight obesity (NWO) has been defined as an excessive body fat (BF) associated with a normal body mass index (BMI). Still, little is known regarding the effect of differing cut-offs for %BF on the prevalence of NWO. We thus conducted a study to assess the effect of modifying the cut-offs for excessive %BF on the prevalence of NWO. METHODS: We examined a convenience sample of 1523 Portuguese adults. BF was measured by validated hand-held bioimpedance. NWO was defined as a BMI < 25 kg/m2 and a %BF >30% or according to sex- and age-specific %BF cut-offs. RESULTS: Prevalence of NWO was 10.1% in women and 3.2% in men. In women, prevalence of NWO increased considerably with age, and virtually all women aged over 55 with a BMI < 25 kg/m2 were actually considered as NWO. Using sex-specific cut-offs for BF (men: 29.1%; women: 37.2%) led to moderately lower prevalence of NWO in women. Using sex and age-specific cut-offs for %BF considerably decreased the prevalence of NWO in women, i.e. 0.5e2.5% (depending on the criterion) but not in men, i.e. 1.9e3.4%. CONCLUSIONS: In women, the prevalence of NWO varies considerably according to the cut-off used to define excess BF, whereas a much smaller variation is found in men. While further studies are needed to describe the risk associated with NWO using various %BF cut-offs, this study suggests that sex- and age-specific cut-offs may be preferred.
Adult, Body Composition, Body Fat Distribution, Body Mass Index, Body Weight, Obesity, Obesity/epidemiology, Portugal, Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
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