Faculté des sciences et de médecine

Body composition-derived BMI cut-offs for overweight and obesity in ethnic Indian and Creole urban children of Mauritius

Ramuth, Harris ; Hunma, Sadhna ; Ramessur, Vinaysing ; Ramuth, Magalutcheemee ; Monnard, Cathriona ; Montani, Jean-Pierre ; Schutz, Yves ; Joonas, Noorjehan ; Dulloo, Abdul G.

In: British Journal of Nutrition, 2020, vol. 124, no. 5, p. 481–492

It is increasingly recognised that the use of BMI cut-off points for diagnosing obesity (OB) and proxy measures for body fatness in a given population needs to take into account the potential impact of ethnicity on the BMI–fat % relationship in order to avoid adiposity status misclassification. This relationship was studied here in 377 Mauritian schoolchildren (200 boys and 177 girls, aged... More

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    Summary
    It is increasingly recognised that the use of BMI cut-off points for diagnosing obesity (OB) and proxy measures for body fatness in a given population needs to take into account the potential impact of ethnicity on the BMI–fat % relationship in order to avoid adiposity status misclassification. This relationship was studied here in 377 Mauritian schoolchildren (200 boys and 177 girls, aged 7–13 years) belonging to the two main ethnic groups: Indian (South Asian descent) and Creole (African/Malagasy descent), with body composition assessed using an isotopic 2H dilution technique as reference. The results indicate that for the same BMI, Indians have more body fat (and less lean mass) than Creoles among both boys and girls: linear regression analysis revealed significantly higher body fat % by 4–5 units (P < 0·001) in Indians than in Creoles across a wide range of BMI (11·6–34·2 kg/m2) and body fat % (5–52 %). By applying Deurenberg’s Caucasian-based equation to predict body fat % from WHO-defined BMI thresholds for overweight (OW) and OB, and by recalculating the equivalent BMI values using a Mauritian-specific equation, it is shown that the WHO BMI cut-offs for OB and OW would need to be lowered by 4·6–5·9 units in Indian and 2·0–3·7 units in Creole children in the 7–13-year-old age group. These results have major implications for ethnic-based population research towards improving the early diagnosis of excess adiposity in this multi-ethnic population known to be at high risk for later development of type 2 diabetes and CVD.