More sensitive measures of obesity for South Asian children at risk of Metabolic disorders

It is becoming more widely recognised that the measures that are typically used to identify children at risk of the long-term implications of central adiposity (fat around the trunk of the body) are not sensitive to the differences between children from different ethnic backgrounds. The Healthy Children Healthy Families theme of NIHR CLAHRC Yorkshire and Humber is working in partnership with school nurses in Bradford to improve our understanding of the importance of, and differences in body fat between White British and South Asian children by collecting additional measures beyond height and weight.

School nurses have been trained to measure skinfold thickness in addition to routine measurements already recorded for the National Child Measurement Programme. Initial findings suggest that despite having a lower BMI, Pakistani children have slightly higher skinfold thickness suggesting relatively greater body fat than White British children with the same BMI. This is an important finding which would not have been identified using BMI alone and may in the future, help to us to develop guidance for identifying children who may have an apparently normal BMI but a greater proportion of body fat. This may eventually allow us to develop interventions to target those at risk of later cardiometabolic diseases.  School nurse teams have been trained to take research quality measures of adiposity and have visited 135 schools and recruited 2458 children to the study to date. BMJ Published article