Background

Several countries have published reference percentiles for body fat percentage (%BF) in children and adolescents. In contrast, there are few reference data available on body fat in Chinese children and adolescents.

Methods

Percent fat was derived from the Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA) of a representative sample aged 6~18 years (N=7435). The LMS (L: skewness, M: median, and S: coeffıcient of variation) regression method was used to create age- and gender-specifıc smoothed percentiles of %BF.

Results

Growth curves are similar between boys and girls until age 11. However, whereas %BF peaks for boys at about age 11 years, it continues to increase for girls throughout adolescence. Median %BF is from 17.06% (age 15) to 24.88% (age 11) for boys, and from 20.42% (age 6) to 31.45% (age 18) for girls.

Conclusions

This study established body fat percentile smoothed curves by LMS method based on a representative sample of Beijing children and adolescents, which was a basic step to establish appropriate cutoff values for obesity identification based on health-related outcomes. These body fat percentiles are derived from BIA, which is widely available in China and accurate at present. Using %BF instead of BMI may offer more accurate information in epidemiologic research, nutritional assessment, and intervention programs.