OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to identify in a group of 8-y-old prepubertal children the anthropometric parameter with the highest prediction power of overweight, measured 4 y later. SUBJECTS: One-hundred and twelve Caucasian children (54 males, 58 females), aged 8.7 ± 0.9 y, were studied. RESULTS: An analysis of the association between relative body mass index (BMI) at follow-up (%) and some indexes of adiposity like relative BMI (%), waist circumference, subscapular and triceps skinfolds, the sum of four skinfolds and percentage fat mass measured at baseline, showed that relative BMI (relBMI) at baseline had the highest association with relBMI at follow-up (r=0.77; P < 0.001); waist circumference had a slightly lower significant association with relBMI at follow-up (r=0.74; P < 0.001). In a multiple regression analysis, waist circumference (adjusted for age) accounted for ∼ 64% of the variation of relBMI at follow-up (P < 0.001). RelBMI measured at baseline accounted for ∼ 59% of the variation of relBMI at follow-up (P < 0.001). Multiple logistic regression analysis included waist circumference, adjusted for age, mother's BMI and relBMI measured at baseline as independent variables in the final equation. In particular, each centimeter increase of waist circumference at the age of 8 y doubled the risk of having a relBMI greater than 120% at the age of 12 y. CONCLUSION: The results of this study, the first which has approached this investigation in children, showed that waist circumference measured at the age of 8 y, which is simple to perform and easy to reproduce, may be a promising index to assess adiposity as well as to predict overweight at puberty.
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