LAS VEGAS — Additional weight measurement methods like waist circumference and body fat composition may help provide more accurate weight status readings among black adolescent patients, according to a poster presented at the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioner 2015 meeting.

Black youth experience higher rates of obesity and obesity-related diseases compared with white youth, but “much of this disparity may be a result of how obesity in measured in children and adolescents,” wrote Nutrena H. Tate PhD, RN, CPNP-PC, of Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan and Lydia D.H. McBurrows MS, RN, CPNP-PC,of Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, Michigan.

“Even as practitioners, we question if [black adolescent] BMIs are really accurate,” said Tate in an interview with The Clinical Advisor. “Children may look a certain way but they are classified a different way.”

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“We need to make sure we’re measuring obesity in these patients as accurately as possible,” emphasized Tate.

To examine the relationship among different weight measurements in black adolescents, the researchers followed 145 black patients, aged 15 to 17 years. Weight measurement methods included body mass index (BMI), body fat composition, and weight circumference. The participants were considered overweight if their BMI was between the 85th through the 95th percentile and considered obese if their BMI was greater than 95th percentile.

Of the 145 patients, a majority were classified as overweight or obese, found the researchers. BMI, body fat composition, and waist circumference had statistically significant and positive relationships.

“Using three different modalities for measuring weight would help to provide more rationale about the patient’s weight status about why the child is classified as overweight or obese,” said Tate.

“From there, [clinicians] can help provide tailored education for the patient and his or her family on how to make more healthful decisions.”


  1. Tate NH and Lydia MDH. #W-2. “Who Says I’m Fat? Measures of Obesity in African American Adolescents: Body Mass Index, Waist Circumference, and Body Fat Composition.” Presented at NAPNAP 2015. Las Vegas, March 5-8.