Validity of body composition methods across ethnic population groups
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Most in vivo body composition methods rely on assumptions that may vary among different population groups as well as within the same population group. The assumptions are based on in vitro body composition (carcass) analyses. The majority of body composition studies were performed on Caucasians and much of the information on validity methods and assumptions were available only for this ethnic group. It is assumed that these assumptions are also valid for other ethnic groups. However, if apparent differences across ethnic groups in body composition ’constants’ and body composition ‘rules’ are not taken into account, biased information on body composition will be the result. This in turn may lead to misclassification of obesity or underweight at an individual as well as a population level. There is a need for more cross-ethnic population studies on body composition. Those studies should be carried out carefully, with adequate methodology and standardization for the obtained information to be valuable.