Overweight, obesity and skinfold thicknesses of children of African or Indian descent in Trinidad and Tobago

M C Gulliford, D Mahabir, B Rocke, S Chinn, R Rona

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43 Citations (Scopus)


Background To evaluate distribution of body mass index (BMI) and subcutaneous fat in children of African or Indian subcontinent descent living in Trinidad and Tobago. Methods A cross-sectional survey was carried out in a nationally representative sample of 66 government schools. Measurements were made of children's heights, weights, triceps and subscapular skinfold thicknesses. Data were analysed by sex and ethnic group and comparison was made with international standards for overweight and obesity and with British (1990) reference curves for BMI. Results Data were analysed for 5688/6731 (85%) eligible children including 1934 Afro-Trinidadian, 1689 Indo-Trinidadian, and 1794 of mixed ethnicity. Afro-Trinidadian and mixed children were taller, but Indo-Trinidadian children were shorter than reference. Values for BMI were lower than reference: mean standard deviation score (SDS), (95% confidence interval) Afro-Trinidadian -0.34 (-0.39 to -0.28), Indo-Trinidadian -1.32 (-139 to -1.25), mixed-0.67 (-0.74 to -0.61). Overall 486 (8.5%, 7.8 to 9.3%) of children were overweight and 138 (2.4%, 2.0 to 2.9%) were obese. Triceps skinfold thickness values were lower than reference (-0.45, -0.48 to -0.4.2 SDS) but subscapular skinfold thicknesses were higher (0.45, 0.43 to 0.47 SDS). Higher BMI,were associated with higher BMI in the child's parents, higher reported birthweight, older age of the child's mother, smaller family size, and with higher maternal educational attainment. Conclusions Overweight was prevalent and distribution of subcutaneous fat was central. Work is needed to determine whether these findings are associated with adult patterns of fat distribution and metabolic abnormalities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)989 - 998
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Epidemiology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2001


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