Body Composition And Fat Patterning Among Adolescent Boys Of ...

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Ind. J. Phys. Anthrop. & Hum. Genet. Vol. 33. No. 1, (2014) : 31-42
Indu Talwar, Professor, Department of Anthropology, Panjab University, Chandigarh, E-mail:; Baljeet Singh, Research Scholar, Department of Anthropology, Panjab
University, Chandigarh.
Indu Talwar and Baljeet Singh
The present study aims to evaluate age changes in body composition and fat patterning
among 200 adolescent boys, ranging in age from 11to 18 years and belonging to District
Yamunanagar, Haryana. In all fourteen anthropometric measurements were taken on each
subject using standarized techniques. Results of the present study clearly indicate that semirural adolescent boys of the present study witnessed their adolescent spurt in almost all the
dimensions except skinfold thicknesses between 14 and 15 years. ANOVA revealed
significant differences in most of the anthropometric traits between various age groups.
Their body mass index increased with greater pace after puberty. The contribution towards
their BMI is more due to greater deposition of muscle mass as compared to fat as is evident
from the values of fat mass index and fat free mass index. Waist hip ratio shows a decreasing
trend with increasing age, thereby indicating relatively more thickening of their hip region as
compared to waist region during adolescence. They show a differential pattern of fat deposition
on trunk as well as on extremities. Ratio of central to peripheral skinfolds increased with age
in boys, exhibiting centralized deposition of fat especially in the later years of adolescence.
Puberty is a dynamic period of development marked by rapid changes in body
size, shape and composition, all of which are sexually dimorphic. The hormonal
regulation of the growth spurt and the alterations in body composition depend on
the release of gonadotropins, leptin, the sex–steroids and growth hormone. Somatic
growth and maturation are influenced by a number of factors that act independently
or in concert to modify an individual’s genetic potential (Rogol et al. 2002). The
timing and magnitude of the pubertal growth spurt are highly variable, as a result
of which transient differences in body size occur between individuals of the same
chronological age. Maximum growth in body weight during adolescence generally
occurs after peak height velocity. The adolescent weight spurt in boys includes
32 Ind. J. Phys. Anthrop. & Hum. Genet. Vol. 33. No. 1, 2014
principally gains in stature (skeletal tissue) and muscle mass, while fat mass is
relatively stable at this time. With growth and maturation, the relative contribution
of solids (protein and mineral) to fat free mass increases while that of water
decreases. Further, Fat free mass of boys has a greater estimated potassium content
and greater density than that of girls (Malina et al. 1988). There are significant
variations in the proportions of muscle, bone and fat components in children,
adolescents and adults. Number of factors influence body fat, including age, sex,
race, nutrition and physical activity. Anthropometric characteristics provide a better
understanding of the growth process by describing changes in the body size,
morphology, body composition and fat patterning through ages. Fatness and Fat
patterning are independent anatomical characteristics of body composition (Goon
and Tech, 2013). Body composition is applicable to find out the health risk associated
with excessively low or high levels of total body fat. It is also used to assess the
effectiveness of nutrition and exercise interventions in altering body composition
and to monitor growth, development, maturation, and age related changes in the
body composition (Heyward and Wagner, 2004). Sexual dimorphism in fat
distribution is thought to emerge during puberty. Truncal or android body fat
distribution is characteristic of adult males but is also recognized as a human
cardiovascular risk factor .Humans have a large variability in body fat distribution,
which has tremendous implications for metabolic complications (Kotlyarevska et
al. 2011; Prinsloo et al. 2011). The abdominally located subcutaneous fat as a risk
factor for various clinical manifestations in adults suggests a need to investigate
fat distribution pattern during adolescence. There are different ways to study fat
distribution. Waist circumference, alone, waist/hip ratio, trunk/extremity ratios
and skinfold ratios can be employed to study fat distribution.
Body mass index is frequently used as a marker of body fatness but needs to be used
with caution among children and adolescents because, BMI reflects not only fat mass
but also fat free mass. Therefore, the use of Fat mass Index (FMI) and fat free mass
index (FFMI) is recommended (Van Itallie et al., 1990; Wells, 2001) to easily assess
whether BMI differences between subjects, ages or time periods are as a result of fat
or fat free mass. Many previous studies have described body composition and fat
patterning among indian adolescents (Indech et al. 1991; Johnston et al. 1991;
Pathmanathan and Prakash, 1994; Talwar et al., 2001; Mukhopadhyay et al., 2005;
Sinha and Kapoor, 2005; Singh and Gaur., 2007; Talwar et al., 2005, 2011; Sharma
and Subramanian, 2013) yet data on these important aspects are lacking on adolescents
from Haryana. However, few studies from this region have focused on nutritional
status of adolescents (Vashisht et al., 2009; Sidhu, 2013). Therefore, the present study
has been undertaken on adolescent boys of Yamunanagar District with a view to fill
this gap and to ascertain age changes in their body composition and fat patterning.
Present investigation is based on a cross-sectional sample of 200 adolescent semi
rural boys, ranging in age from 11to 18 years and residing in various villages of
Body Composition and Fat Patterning among Adolescent Boys 33
Tehsil Bilaspur and Chhachhurauli in District Yamunanagar. The subjects were
selected from the four schools, two from each Tehsil. The data were collected from
Government model Sanskriti senior secondary school, Bilaspur; New Happy public
school, Bilaspur and Government senior secondary school and college,
Chhachhrauli and Guru Nanak Public School, Chhachhrauli in September and
October, 2010. In all, fourteen anthropometric measurements were taken on each
subject. These include height, weight, six circumferences (upper arm, chest, waist,
hip, thigh, calf, and six skinfolds (biceps, triceps, subscapular, suprailliac, thigh,
and calf) using the standard techniques given in (Weiner and Lourie, 1981). Besides
anthropometric measurements additional information was obtained regarding the
age, sex, caste, family composition, family income, educational and occupational
background and dietary habits through personal interview based on schedule. Age
of each subject was verified from the admission registers. The age was then
converted into decimal age as given by Tanner et al., (1966). The sample boys were
divided into eight age groups each of the magnitude of one year. Only apparently
healthy children without any history of chronic illness were included in this study.
The subjects were asked to recall their daily routine dietary pattern and the items
consumed daily at different intervals were recorded.
To study total adiposity body mass index (weight in (Kg)/height in (m²) ) was
calculated for each subject. The grand mean thickness (GMT) was calculated by
dividing the sum of all six skinfolds by six to visualize the overall fatness with
advancing age. Fat mass and fat free mass have been calculated by applying the
formulae derived by Durnin and Womersley (1974) and Siri (1956). Fat mass index
(FMI) [Fat mass(Kg)/height²(m²)] and Fat free mass index [fat free mass(Kg)/
height²(m²)] were calculated (Van Itallie et al., 1990; Wells, 2001) to access whether
BMI differences between subjects were a result of fat or fat free mass. The ratios of
waist/ hip circumference and central to peripheral skinfolds (subscapular +
suprailiac)/2/ (biceps +triceps+ thigh+calf skinfolds)/4 were used as indices of
fat patterning. One- way analysis of variance (ANOVA) was performed for each
variable to study age trends.
The general information about the socio-economic status of the subjects was
measured in terms of educational and occupational status of their parents through
interview schedule. Only 8.50% fathers and 18% of mothers were illiterate. Rest of
the parents literate and had education through various levels: up to Primary level
(20.00% fathers and 24.50% mothers), middle school (24.50% fathers, 22.00%
mothers), high and higher secondary school (33.50% fathers and 30.00% mothers),
and graduation/post graduation (13.50% fathers and 5.50% mothers). Majority
(83%) of the mothers were housewives. Most of the fathers were engaged in
agriculture (39%); 21.50%were shopkeepers; 17% were in service ; 13% were laborers
and 9% were skilled workers. They all belonged to low middle socio-economic
group. The staple diet of respondents consisted of wheat, rice, pulses, and seasonal
vegetables. Cauliflower, brinjal and cabbage along with potatoes were most
frequently eaten vegetables. The number of meals varied from two to three meals
34 Ind. J. Phys. Anthrop. & Hum. Genet. Vol. 33. No. 1, 2014
a day depending upon the schools. While the students of government schools were
taking midday meal at the school as it was provided by school, they ate three meals
a day. The boys who were studying in the private school were taking two meals
and had some snacks during lunch time. Generally all the children had wheat
chapattis or paranthas with pickel in the morning but at dinner time they had rice
or chapatti with dal and only a few used to take milk before they sleep.
Table 1 presents the means, standard deviations and ANOVA for stature, weight
circumferences and body skinfolds thicknesses in adolescent boys of District
Yamunanagar, Haryana. The mean values for height, increased with age from 11
to 18 years. The mean body height increased by 24.94% (34.21cm) from 137.18 cm
at age 11 to 171.39cm at age 18 years. The maximum annual gain of 10.7 cm. was
witnessed between 14 and 15 years. Mean body weight increased from 31.45 kg at
11 years to 57.55 kg at 18 years registering 80.9% increase (25.7 kg) for the period
under study. The maximum annual gain of 8.72 kg in weight occurred between 14
and 15 years. All the circumferences among sample boys showed a progressive
increase in the mean values from 11to 18 years. The maximum annual increment
was seen between 14 and 15 years in all the circumferences. However, magnitude
of gain was different in different circumferences. Growth trend of various skinfolds
of upper extremity was different from those for trunk and lower extremity. Skinfold
thicknesses at biceps and triceps skinfold show a trend of decrease with the
advancing age except for 13 and 17 years in biceps and 14 and 17 years for triceps
respectively. Subscapular and suprailiac skinfolds exhibit an initial decrease in the
mean values till 13 years where after, a regular increase in subscapular skinfold is
seen with age but suprailiac skinfold after showing a steep increase till 15 years
dips at 16 years to increase again till 18 years. Thigh and calf skinfolds show almost
similar trend of initial decline in the mean values till 12 years. Followed by a regular
increase till 15 years and a fluctuating trend thereafter. Results of one way analysis
of variance show significant differences between age groups for stature ,weight,
all the circumferences butnon significant differences between age groups were
observed for all the skinfold thicknesses.
The mean values of fat mass, fat free mass and various indices of obesity and fat
patterning have shown in table 2.Fat mass among the boys of the present study
increases with age till 15 years and shows a decrease at 16 years where after it
again increases 18 years. Maximum gain in this parameter is seen between 14 to 15
years when 2.14 kg of fat mass is added. Fat free mass increases regularly from 11
to 18 years with maximum annual gain during 14 to 15 years (6.58 kg). Body Mass
Index among adolescent boys showed a minor decrease till 13 years where after it
increased regularly with greater pace and showed maximum gain after the
adolescent spurt in height and weight. Maximum gain of 1.30kg/m2 was noticed
between 16 and 17 years. Mean values for fat mass index decrease from 11to 13
years where after an increase is seen till 15 years followed by a decrease and
Body Composition and Fat Patterning among Adolescent Boys 35
subsequent increase till 18 years. Percent body fat shows a fluctuating trend of an
initial decrease from 11 to 12 years followed by an increase till 15 years which
again decreases at 16 years to pick up gradually till 18 years. Maximum percent fat
(1.97%) is gained during 13-14 years. Grand mean thickness reveals a similar trend
as that of percent fat but maximum annual gain in mean skinfold thickness is seen
between 14-15 years .Mean values for central to peripheral skinfold ratio an overall
increasing trend with the advancing age except for minor fluctuations observed at
13 and 15 years. Waist hip ratio shows a general trend of decrease with age from a
mean value of 0.86 at 11 years to 0.81 at 18 years.
Studies on body composition of children and adolescents are extremely significant
in view of achieving early diagnosis in public health and promoting health and
nutrition. Body composition can be assessed using specific equations for predicting
bone density and proportions of fat and fat free body mass (Friedl et al. 1992; Wells,
2003; Lyra et al. 2012). Although BMI (Kg/m2) is widely used as an index of body
fatness, it is a measure of weight relative to height rather than adiposity.BMI cannot
distinguish between body fatness ,muscle mass and skeletal mass, and its use can
result in large errors in estimation of body fatness especially among children and
adolescents. Therefore, fat mass index and fat free mass index help us in BMI
differences between individuals. Fat mass (FM) and fat-free body mass (FFM) are
important parameters for assessing nutritional status, since they are associated
with higher prevalence of excess body fat and malnutrition worldwide (Lyra et al.
(2012). According to a report of world health organization waist circumference
could be used as an alternative to BMI when examining the relationship between
weight status and disease risk as well as fat percentage and fat distribution (WHO,
2011). Results of the present study clearly indicate that Semi-rural adolescent boys
of Yamunanagar experienced their adolescent spurt (maximum annual gain) for
height, weight, all the circumferences, fat mass and fat free mass between 14 and
15 years. They attained a peak height velocity of 10.7 cm and gained 34.21 cm. in
height during the period under study. In weight, a total gain of 26.10 kg. was
witnessed by them from 11 to 18 years with maximum gain of 8.72 kg. between 14
and 15 years. Significant changes in body composition take place during puberty.
Boys attain a peak height velocity of 10.3 cm/year, on average two years later than
girls and gain 28 cm. in height (Marshall & Tanner, 1970). Puberty is also a time of
significant weight gain; 50% of adult body weight is gained during adolescence. In
boys peak weight velocity occurs at about the same time as peak height velocity
(age 14) and averages 9kg/year (Barnes, 1975; Tanner, 1965). Similar findings have
been reported by the present study. Body circumferences are useful in determining
body size and body proportion in children and adolescents. The use of this
anthropometric based measurement method is based on the concept that
circumference reflects fat mass and fat free mass and that skeletal size are associated
with fat free mass (Wagner and Heyward, 1999). Waist, hip and thigh
circumferences are useful in determining fat distribution. Waist and hip
36 Ind. J. Phys. Anthrop. & Hum. Genet. Vol. 33. No. 1, 2014
circumferences are both good indicators of intra-abdominal adipose tissue (Goran,
1998). All the circumferences among adolescent boys of the present study registered
faster growth throughout the period of adolescence showing maximum annual
increment between during 14 to 15 years. Previous studies have shown that among
males peak weight gain coincides with the timing of peak linear growth and peak
muscle accumulation, (Mukhopadhyay et al., 2005; Talwar et al. 2011). Forbes (1986)
reported that, the spurt in muscles is relatively greater in boys and is due to known
effects of androgens. During puberty, testosterone production increases
dramatically and it increases the rate of gain of muscle mass among boys. Biceps
and triceps skinfold thicknesses among boys of the present study show a general
decreasing trend with the advancing age. Lower extremity skinfolds (Thigh and
calf) exhibit similar trend of decrease till 12 years followed by a regular increase till
15 years and fluctuations thereafter. Subscapular and suprailiac skinfolds depict
an increasing trend after an initial decline at 12 years and showed maximum annual
gain during 14 to 15 years. This depicts that adolescent boys deposit more fat on
their trunk region than on extremities. Similiar findings have been reported by
Parizkova, (1977); Sinha and Kapoor, (2006) and Talwar et al., (2011). Moreover,
transient increases and decreases in the body fat are commonly noticed among
adolescents during puberty due to the variation in timing of increase in height,
weight and accumulation of body fat and lean body mass. GMT shows an increasing
trend, after an initial decline at 12 years, it increases from 12 to 15 years after which
the mean values substantially decrease at 16 years to pick up again up at 17 years.
Absolute fat mass and percentage body fat of adolescent boys of Yamunanagar
also exhibit similar trends as that of grand mean thickness. Under the influence of
testosterone,boys have a significant increase in the growth of bone and muscle
with a simultaneous loss of fat in the limbs (Tanner, 1965). Adolescent boys of the
present study add 4.04 kg of fat during 11 to 18 years with maximum gain of 2.14
kg between 14 to 15. Their fat free mass shows an increasing trend from 11 to 18
years i.e 22.05 kg (85.86%) with rapid increase from 14 to 15 years (6.58kg) and
continues to increase till 18 years with almost similar pace. Parizkova (1977) and
Bell, (1993) found that peak velocity in LBM coincides with peak height velocity in
adolescent boys. Mean fat mass (FM), fat free mass (FFM) and fat mass index (FMI)
increased the most between 14 to 15 years even among Bengalee adolescent boys
(Mukhopadyay et al., 2005). During puberty boys accrue FFM at a much greater
rate and for a longer time so that the young adult amount of FFM is attained at 19
to 20 years for boys (Malina and Bouchard, 1991). In boys the significant increase
in the amount of lean body mass exceeds the total gain in weight caused by the
concomitant loss of adipose tissue. As height velocity declines fat accumulation
resumes. The increase in skeletal size and muscle mass leads to increased strength
in males. The results of the present study are in accordance with the previous studies.
Body mass index of sample boys decreased from 11 to 13 years where after a regular
and rapid increase in the values is witnessed with maximum increase during 16 to
17 years. BMI when fractionated into fat mass index and fat free mass index, it
became apparent that the value of fat mass index decreased from 11to 13 years and
Body Composition and Fat Patterning among Adolescent Boys 37
increased till 15 years to decrease again at 16 years and finally picked up from 16
years onwards, whereas, fat free mass index showed a regular increase showing
maximum gain during 16 to 17 years as shown by BMI. It is evident from the results
that the contribution of their BMI is more due to greater deposition of muscle mass
as compared to fat. Increases in BMI levels of boys during adolescence seem to be
largely the result of increases in fat free mass rather than body fatness (Demerath
et al. 2006).
Ratio of central to peripheral skin folds of the body shows a regular increasing
trend with minor fluctuations at 13,15 and 17 years. The maximum increase is
attained from 16 to 17 years. This depicts centralized fat deposition all through the
adolescence and this is due to the hormones released by different glands to regulate
the body metabolism. Sex hormones i.e. testosterone is known to affect regional fat
distribution (Bjorntop et al. 1997) and changing hormonal environment during
puberty may contribute to large changes in fat distribution (de Ridder et al., 1992;
Rogol, 1994). Similiar findings have been reported by Sinha and Kapoor, (2006)
and Talwar et al. (2011).
The waist hip ratio of the sample boys was found to decrease from 11 to 18 years it
indicates relatively more thickening of hip region as compared to waist region.
Waist hip ratio decreases from childhood to 18 years in boys and increases later on
as the age proceeds up to 30 years. (Evans et al., 1984; Ashwell et al. 1985; Cassey et
al., 1994). A high ratio of waist to hip circumference has been shown to be associated
with a high proportion of intra-abdominal fat (Ashwell et al., 1985). Similar results
have been reported by Mukhopadhyay et al. (2005) and the present study.
It can be concluded from the above discussion that semi rural adolescent boys of
Yamunanagar exhibit their growth spurt in height, weight, and various
circumferential between 14 and 15 years indicating accelerated muscular growth
and overall better development during this period. Their body mass index increased
with greater pace after puberty. The contribution towards their BMI is more due to
greater deposition of muscle mass as compared to fat. Their hip region is more
thickened as compared to waist. They adhere to a differential deposition and
patterning of fat on the extremities and on axial body. There is greater deposition
of fat on the trunk region as compared to extremities during adolescence.
38 Ind. J. Phys. Anthrop. & Hum. Genet. Vol. 33. No. 1, 2014
Table 1: Mean , Standard Deviation (SD) and ANOVA of Stature, Weight,Circumferences and
Body Skinfolds Thicknesses in Semi-rural Adolescent Boys of District Yamunanagar, Haryana
Age in yearsVariables 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 ANOVA
(25) (25) (25) (25) (25) (25) (25) (25) F-ratio
Stature (cm)
Mean 137.18 141.97 148.56 152.58 163.28 165.66 170.18 171.39 63.45**
SD 4.72 8.25 12.69 8.98 9.46 5.73 5.75 6.28
Weight (kg)
Mean 31.85 33.12 36.81 40.60 49.32 50.62 57.24 57.55 38.80**
SD 7.34 7.41 5.70 8.98 11.49 9.25 8.50 6.74
Upper arm
Mean 18.24 18.09 18.58 19.58 21.89 21.22 22.76 23.42 18.71**
SD 2.79 2.19 1.38 2.04 3.41 2.25 2.38 2.65
Mean 63.29 63.41 66.85 69.03 75.58 76.76 79.32 80.34 26.73**
SD 7.10 7.28 6.13 6.82 8.04 7.82 5.92 4.39
Mean 57.60 56.89 60.22 61.49 66.82 65.50 68.56 68.92 8.54**
SD 8.22 7.58 7.33 7.68 9.57 11.45 6.54 6.09
Mean 66.96 66.65 70.12 74.17 79.38 79.48 83.52 84.56 26.66**
SD 6.76 7.74 4.54 7.72 9.98 6.83 6.21 3.81
Mean 34.48 32.98 34.80 36.96 39.03 38.78 40.52 41.02 12.07**
SD 4.62 4.67 3.13 4.67 4.72 4.59 6.21 3.91
Mean 24.88 24.68 26.45 27.16 29.24 29.82 31.14 32.33 13.48**
SD 3.23 2.69 2.79 4.18 4.42 3.71 2.81 2.69
Mean 5.36 4.51 5.41 5.25 5.18 3.90 4.26 4.17 1.62
SD 2.53 1.64 4.62 1.71 3.17 2.34 1.60 1.77
Mean 10.28 7.99 7.75 8.97 8.38 6.67 7.70 6.91 2.69
SD 5.58 3.64 3.02 4.09 6.09 4.11 3.82 3.09
Sub scapular
Mean 8.17 6.66 6.63 8.11 8.53 8.51 8.72 8.90 0.93
SD 4.89 3.95 2.66 4.19 5.39 6.96 3.66 3.87
Mean 8.46 6.52 6.88 9.00 10.41 8.76 9.18 9.83 1.46
SD 7.06 3.22 3.79 4.45 7.80 5.98 5.03 5.47
Mean 14.19 10.77 10.96 11.20 12.30 9.72 11.46 10.48 1.59
SD 7.94 3.87 3.62 3.69 5.29 6.31 5.72 5.03
Mean 11.29 8.60 9.12 9.91 11.14 8.92 10.23 9.18 1.11
SD 7.94 3.69 3.12 3.51 5.62 5.14 4.51 5.31
Body Composition and Fat Patterning among Adolescent Boys 39
Table 2: Mean, Standard Deviation and ANOVA of Fat Mass, Fat Free mass and Indices of
Adiposity and Fat Distribution Pattern of Rural Adolescent Boys of
District Yamunanagar, Haryana
Age in years Variables 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 ANOVA
(25) (25) (25) (25) (25) (25) (25) (25) F-ratio
Fat Mass (kg)
Mean 5.77 5.22 5.80 7.26 9.40 8.16 9.88 9.82 6.07**
SD 3.58 2.79 2.20 3.33 5.72 4.79 4.10 3.65
Fat Free Mass(kg)
Mean 25.68 27.89 31.01 33.34 39.92 42.45 47.36 47.73 63.02**
SD 4.56 4.89 4.49 6.54 7.02 5.52 5.35 4.47
Mean 16.63 16.29 16.17 17.26 18.31 18.45 19.75 19.62 6.78**
SD 3.48 2.37 1.66 2.39 3.12 3.34 2.75 2.32
Fat Mass Index
Mean 3.02 2.53 2.52 3.06 3.47 2.98 3.41 3.37 1.58
SD 1.75 1.17 0.78 1.13 1.79 1.84 1.46 1.34
Fat Free Mass
Mean 13.59 13.75 13.65 14.19 14.84 15.46 16.33 16.25 13.09**
SD 1.93 1.33 1.39 1.71 1.43 1.87 1.50 1.30
% Body Fat
Mean 17.14 14.93 15.50 17.47 17.95 15.41 16.75 16.75 1.06
SD 6.11 4.71 4.55 4.42 6.77 5.47 4.82 4.72
Mean 9.63 7.51 7.79 8.74 9.86 7.75 8.59 8.24 1.08
SD 5.34 2.87 2.57 3.27 5.77 4.91 3.71 3.78
Mean 0.79 0.82 0.80 0.95 0.92 1.15 1.08 1.23 15.14**
SD 0.21 0.20 0.19 0.17 0.18 0.27 0.26 0.22
Mean 0.86 0.85 0.86 0.83 0.84 0.82 0.82 0.81 1.52
SD 0.06 0.05 0.11 0.06 0.08 0.09 0.06 0.06
CPR: Central to Peripheral Skinfold Ratio; GMT: Grand Mean Thickness and WHR: Waist-Hip Ratio.
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