Differences in body composition, body proportions and timing of puberty between stunted and non-stunted adolescents
The purpose of this study was to assess differences in body composition, proportions and timing of puberty between stunted and non-stunted South African adolescents in the North West Province, South Africa. A total of 259 black adolescents (118 boys, 141 girls), aged 13-18 years were measured. The following data were collected: height-for-age z-scores (HAZ), height, mass, waist circumference (WC), waist-to-height ratio (WHtR), waist-to-hip-ratio (WHR), body mass index (BMI), percentage body fat (%BF), Tanner stage, armspan and skinfolds. Data of growth stunted (GS) and non-stunted (NS) groups were compared using the Mann-Whitney U-test. There were significant differences between mass, height, HAZ, armspan, WC, hip curcumference and lean mass of GS and NS children. %BF, WHR and physical maturation were similar in the two groups, but lean mass was smaller in the GS groups indicating proportionally more fat and less lean mass in the GS groups. WHtR of GS children was significantly greater than WHtR of NS children, indicating a more central fat distribution in GS children. Only 3.5% of children had a WHtR >0.5, indicating abdominal obesity, but 54% of children had a %BF above 20% in boys and 25% in girls. A WHtR cut-off of 0.5 may not be appropriate for these African children.
Key words: Adolescents, body composition, stunting, fat percentage, puberty, South Africa.
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