Validation of mid-arm circumference for surveillance of obesity in African adolescent girls and adult women

Hilde L. Nashandi, Makama A. Monyeki, John J. Reilly

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Abstract

This study aimed to assess the validity of mid-arm circumference (MAC), also known as mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC), for classification of high body fatness in Namibian adolescent girls and women and to test whether classification accuracy of MUAC was higher than the traditional simple proxy for high fatness, the BMI. In 206 adolescent girls aged 13–19 years and 207 adult women aged 20–40 years, we defined obesity conventionally (BMI-for-age Z score ≥ 2·00, adolescents; adults BMI ≥ 30·0 kg/m2) and also defined obesity using published MAC cut-off values. 2H oxide dilution was used to measure total body water (TBW) to define high body fat percentage (≥ 30 % in the adolescents, ≥ 38 % in the adults), and we compared the ability of BMI and MAC to classify high body fatness correctly using sensitivity, specificity and predictive values. In the adolescents, obesity prevalence was 9·2 % (19/206) using BMI-for-age and 63·2 % (131/206) using TBW; sensitivity of BMI-for-age was 14·5 % (95 % CI 9·1, 22·0 %) but was improved significantly using MAC of 22·6 cm (sensitivity 96·9 %; 95 % CI 92·1 %, 99·3 %). In the adults, obesity prevalence was 30·4 % (63/207) using BMI and 57·0 % (118/207) using TBW, and sensitivity of BMI was 52·5 % (95 % CI 43·6, 62·2 %), but using a MAC of 30·6 cm sensitivity was 72·8 % (95 % CI 66·4, 82·6 %). Surveillance of obesity in African adolescent girls and adult women is likely to be improved substantially by use of MAC as an alternative to the BMI-for-age and BMI.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1437-1443
Number of pages7
JournalBritish Journal of Nutrition
Volume130
Issue number8
Early online date9 Mar 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 28 Oct 2023

Keywords

  • obesity
  • body composition
  • body mass index
  • deuterium dilution method
  • adolescent girls
  • adult woment
  • anthropometry
  • mid-upper arm circumference

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