Prediction of percent body fat measurements in Americans 8 years and older

J. Stevens, F. S. Ou, J. Cai, S. B. Heymsfield, K. P. Truesdale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Background/Objectives:Although numerous equations to predict percent body fat have been published, few have broad generalizability. The objective of this study was to develop sets of equations that are generalizable to the American population 8 years of age and older.Subjects/Methods:Dual-emission X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) assessed percent body fat from the 1999-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) was used as the response variable for development of 14 equations for each gender that included between 2 and 10 anthropometrics. Other candidate variables included demographics and menses. Models were developed using the Least Absolute Shrinkage and Selection Operator (LAASO) and validated in a ((14) withheld sample randomly selected from 11 884 males or 9215 females.Results:In the final models, R 2 ranged from 0.664 to 0.845 in males and from 0.748 to 0.809 in females. R 2 was not notably improved by development of equations within, rather than across, age and ethnic groups. Systematic over or under estimation of percent body fat by age and ethnic groups was within 1 percentage point. Seven of the fourteen gender-specific models had R 2 values above 0.80 in males and 0.795 in females and exhibited low bias by age, race/ethnicity and body mass index (BMI).Conclusions:To our knowledge, these are the first equations that have been shown to be valid and unbiased in both youth and adults in estimating DXA assessed body fat. The equations developed here are appropriate for use in multiple ethnic groups, are generalizable to the US population and provide a useful method for assessment of percent body fat in settings where methods such as DXA are not feasible.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)587-594
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Obesity
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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