Original Paper

European Journal of Pediatrics

, Volume 170, Issue 6, pp 731-739

First online:

Comparison of several anthropometric indices with insulin resistance proxy measures among European adolescents: The Helena Study

  • Katerina KondakiAffiliated withDepartment of Nutrition and Dietetics, Harokopio UniversityDepartment of Public Health, Ghent University
  • , Evangelia GrammatikakiAffiliated withDepartment of Nutrition and Dietetics, Harokopio UniversityDepartment of Public Health, Ghent University
  • , David Jiménez PavónAffiliated withDepartment of Physiology, School of Medicine, University of Granada
  • , Yannis ManiosAffiliated withDepartment of Nutrition and Dietetics, Harokopio University
  • , Marcela González-GrossAffiliated withDepartment of Health and Human Performance, Facultad de Ciencias de la Actividad Física y del Deporte, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid
  • , Michael SjöstromAffiliated withKarolinska Institutet
  • , Frédéric GottrandAffiliated withFaculté de médecine, University of Lille 2
  • , Dénes MolnarAffiliated withDepartment of Pediatrics, University of Pécs
  • , Luis A. MorenoAffiliated withEscuela Universitaria de Ciencias de la Salud, Universidad de Zaragoza
    • , Anthony KafatosAffiliated withPreventive Medicine and Nutrition Unit, University of Crete School of Medicine
    • , Chantal GilbertAffiliated withDepartment of Nutrition and Dietetics, Harokopio UniversityDepartment of Consumer and Sensory Sciences, Campden & Chorleywood Food Research Association
    • , Mathilde KerstingAffiliated withDepartment of Nutrition and Dietetics, Harokopio UniversityResearch Institute of Child Nutrition, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
    • , Stefaan De HenauwAffiliated withDepartment of Public Health, Ghent University Email author 

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The aim of the current study was to compare the association of several anthropometric indices, with insulin resistance (IR) proxy measures in European adolescents. The present study comprises 1,097 adolescents aged 12.5–17.5 from ten European cities participating in the HELENA study. Weight, height, waist circumference (WC) and hip circumference, skinfolds thickness, fat mass (FM), fasting plasma glucose (G F) and serum insulin (I F) levels were measured. HOMA (as indicator of IR body mass index (BMI), waist to hip ratio (WHR) and waist to height ratio (WHtR) were calculated. I F and HOMA were statistically significantly related to BMI, WC, skinfold sum, WHtR, WHR and FM. BMI, WC, WHtR, skinfold sum and FM displayed similar correlation with I F and HOMA as opposed to WHR where lower correlation with IR indices was detected in the overall sample. Similar results were found for boys, girls and underweight/normal weight adolescents. On the other hand, WC and WHtR were found to be more strongly associated with IR proxy measures compared to the rest of anthropometric indices among overweight/obese subjects. Based on the current findings, WC and WHtR could be used, alternatively, to identify the overweight/obese adolescent at risk for developing IR. In addition, all aforementioned anthropometric indices, except WHR, could be used among the underweight/normal weight adolescents.


Body mass index Serum insulin Waist circumference Waist-to-height ratio Waist-to-hip ratio Skinfold sum