Shifting patterns of BMI and skinfold fatness among US children: 1985/87 vs. 2012

Yan Yang, Weimo Zhu, Songtao Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Childhood obesity has been recognised as a major public health concern. The purpose of this study was to determine specific shifting patterns of BMI and skinfold fatness of the United States (U.S.) children across different age and sexes groups between 1985/87 and 2012. Methods: The data of 9,366 children aged 8-15 years from two nationally representative surveys, i.e., 1985/87 National Children and Youth Fitness Study I & II and 2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey National Youth Fitness Survey, were analysed. Specifically, changes of BMI-based obesity prevalence and shifting patterns of measured anthropometric data including BMI, height, weight, skinfold body fat percentage (skinfoldfat%), subscapular skinfold and triceps skinfold from 1985/87 to 2012 were estimated by age and sex using the 1985/87 quartiles as the baseline. Results: Significantly increased obesity prevalence were confirmed for both boys (increased by 159.06%, P <0.001) and girls (increased by 49.79%, P <0.001) from 1985/87 to 2012. Except for height, all other measures in 2012 experienced an unbalanced shifting pattern, mainly from other quartiles into the 4th quartile of 1985/87. Conclusions: The shifting of both boys’ and girls’ BMI and skinfold-fat% in 2012 were all concentrated in the 4th quartile of 1985/87, indicating a significant increase in BMI and skinfold-fat% not only in U.S. children from 1985/87 to 2012, but also in the overweight and obese subgroups, which serves as a serious warning for the U.S. childhood obesity epidemic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e12067-1-e12067-11
JournalEpidemiology Biostatistics and Public Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


  • Body fat percentage
  • Childhood obesity
  • Skewed change
  • Skinfold

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Health Policy
  • Community and Home Care
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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