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      Applicability of body composition techniques and constants for children and youths.

      Exercise and sport sciences reviews
      Adipose Tissue, analysis, Adolescent, Adult, Body Composition, Body Water, Body Weight, Bone and Bones, Child, Densitometry, methods, Female, Growth, Humans, Infant, Male, Minerals, Obesity, diagnosis, Potassium, Proteins, Reference Values, Skinfold Thickness, Sports

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          This review has focused on the chemical immaturity of children and the implications for body composition estimates. Prepubescent and pubescent children deviate considerably in fat-free body composition from the adult reference male, and this has lead investigators to overestimate body fatness in this population using conventional body composition formulas. The use of multicomponent approaches to body composition to obtain more accurate estimates of body fatness in children has provided new information on the body composition of this population. Sex- and age-specific constants, to replace those derived from the reference male, are suggested for further testing and verification as well as for use in the clinical setting. The chemical immaturity in children has its greatest effect on estimating the extent of obesity in children 6 to 11 years of age and in estimating body fatness in the lean, athletic, prepubescent population. Previous estimates of the growth rate of fat and fat-free body are also affected by chemical immaturity. Further research is needed to study the impact of physical activity and inactivity on the composition of the fat-free body during growth, to develop constants for more accurate estimates of fatness in physically active samples of all ages and to validate the constants presented in the less active populations. Future research with multicomponent body composition systems in all populations of children and youth is essential for progress in this area. Results will have an important contribution to the estimation of childhood obesity, prediction of minimal weight in the athletic population and estimates of growth rate of fat and fat-free body mass. The development of body composition methodologies which more accurately measure the growth of muscle and bone as well as fat is a major challenge ahead.

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