, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 114-119

Body Composition by Dual-Energy X-ray Absorptiometry in Black Compared with White Women

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Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) has recently been applied to the measurement of body composition using a three-compartment model consisting of fat, lean and bone mineral. The mass of skeletal muscle may be approximated by measurement of the lean tissue mass of the extremities. In addition, body fat distribution can be estimated by determining the ratio of fat in the trunk to the fat in the extremities. In the current study, DXA was used to compare body composition and fat distribution between black (n= 162) and white women (n= 203). Black women had a higher mineral mass and a higher skeletal muscle mass. The ratio of mineral to muscle mass was higher in black women, even when the data were adjusted for age, height and weight. Both total body bone mineral and muscle mass declined with age in both races, with evidence for an accelerated loss of bone mineral after menopause. Body size (height and weight) was generally a significant variable in developing regressions of each compartment against age. Their higher musculoskeletal mass may lead to misclassification of 12% of black women as obese if body mass index is used as an index of obesity. Body fat distribution (trunk/leg) did not differ between races in the raw data. However, for women of the same age, height and weight, white women have a significantly higher trunk/leg fat ratio. Body composition values for fat, lean and bone mineral obtained from DXA should be adjusted not only for gender but also for age, height, weight and ethnicity.

Received: 23 September 1998 / Accepted: 4 January 1999