FITNESSGRAM® BMI Standards: Should They Be Race-Specific?

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background:

The purpose of the study was to evaluate race-specific FITNESSGRAM® body mass index (BMI) standards in comparison to the recommended standards, i.e., percent fat (%BF) ≥25 in boys and %BF ≥32 in girls.

Methods:

BMI and %BF were estimated in 1,968 Black and White children ages 6-14 years, using methods similar to those used to develop the current FITNESSGRAM standards. Multiple regression was employed to develop age-, sex-, and race-specific BMI standards. Percent agreement and modified kappa (κq) were used to evaluate agreement with the %BF standards, and sensitivity and specificity were used to evaluate classification accuracy.

Results:

Race significantly (p < .05) and meaningfully (β = 2.3% fat) added to the relationship between BMI and %BF. Agreement of the race-specific BMI standards with %BF standards was moderate to high (κq = .73–.88), and classification accuracy improved on the current FITNESSGRAM BMI standards.

Conclusions:

Race-specific BMI standards appear to be a more accurate representation of unhealthy %BF levels than the current FITNESSGRAM BMI standards.

The authors are with the Dept. of Exercise and Sport Science, East Carolina University, Greenville NC 27858.

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