Concordance of obesity classification between body mass index and percent body fat among school children in Saudi Arabia

Abdulrahman Al-Mohaimeed, Saifuddin Ahmed, Khadiga Dandash, Mohammed Saleh Ismail, Nazmus Saquib

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: In Saudi Arabia, where childhood obesity is a major public health issue, it is important to identify the best tool for obesity classification. Hence, we compared two field methods for their usefulness in epidemiological studies. Methods: The sample consisted of 874 primary school (grade I-IV) children, aged 6-10 years, and was obtained through a multi-stage random sampling procedure. Weight and height were measured, and BMI (kg/m2) was calculated. Percent body fat was determined with a Futrex analyzer that uses near infrared reactance (NIR) technology. Method specific cut-off values were used for obesity classification. Sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive values were determined for BMI, and the agreement between BMI and percent body fat was calculated. Results: Compared to boys, the mean BMI was higher in girls whereas the mean percent body fat was lower (p-values <0.0001). According to BMI, the prevalence of overweight or obesity was significantly higher in girls (34.3% vs. 17.3%); as oppose to percent body fat, which was similar between the sexes (6.6% vs. 7.0%). The sensitivity of BMI to classify overweight or obesity was high (boys =93%, girls = 100%); and its false-positive detection rate was also high (boys = 63%, girls = 81%). The agreement rate was low between these two methods (boys = 0.48, girls =0.24). Conclusions: There is poor agreement in obesity classification between BMI and percent body fat, using NIR method, among Saudi school children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number16
JournalBMC Pediatrics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 5 2015


  • Anthropometry
  • BMI
  • Body mass index
  • Children
  • NIR
  • Near infrared reactance
  • Obesity
  • Percent body fat
  • Saudi Arabia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

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