Percent body fat and adiposity indicators: a study among tribal and non-tribal females of India

  • Shivani Chandel
  • Monika Kulshreshtha
  • Sukhmani Kaur
  • Naorem Kiranmala Devi
  • Suniti Yadav
  • Somorjit Singh Ningombam
  • Masan Kambo Newmei
  • Varhlun Chhungi
  • Kallur Nava SaraswathyEmail author
Original Article



During the past few decades, overweight and obesity have become a global health hazard. The estimation and documentation of obesity are important in countries like India that have a broad diversity of populations. However, there is discrepancy in the various adiposity indicators used to estimate obesity. The present study examines population-specific associations between percent body fat (%BF) and adiposity variables among females in three population groups.

Materials and methods

A cross-sectional study was conducted among Jat, Mizo, and Liangmai communities of India. Data were collected using interview schedules and somatometric measurements based on ISAK protocols. Body density was calculated from skinfold measurements and the Siri equation was used to determine %BF. WHO cut-offs were used for waist circumference (WC), waist-to-hip ratio (WHR), and body mass index (BMI), whereas Ashwell and Gibson and American Council for Exercise cut-offs were used for waist-to-height ratio (WHtR) and %BF, respectively.


Obesity variables are differentially distributed across the three populations. The mean values of %BF and WHtR were the highest among the Liangmai, whereas BMI, WC, and WHR were the highest among the Mizo.


All of the selected adiposity indicators (WC, WHR, WHtR, and BMI) in all three populations were significantly positively correlated with %BF. Thus, %BF should be incorporated with other adiposity indicators as well, for a better understanding and categorisation of obesity among different populations.


Obesity Percent body fat Tribal Non-tribal Ethnicity 



The authors are grateful to the Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology and Research, and Development Grant, 2014–2015, University of Delhi, for providing grants to carry out this study and all the participants of Jat, Mizo, and Liangmai populations for their generous participation in this study.

Grant sponsorship

This study was sponsored by Research and Development Grant, 2014–2015, University of Delhi, and Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology.

Author contributions

Shivani Chandel, Monika Kulshreshtha, and Sukhmani Kaur analysed the data and drafted the manuscript. Kallur Nava Saraswathy and Naorem Kiranmala Devi designed the study and directed implementation and data collection. Somorjit Singh Ningombam, Masan Kambo Newmei, and Varhlun Chhungi collected the data and Suniti Yadav provided necessary logistic support. Shivani Chandel, Monika Kulshreshtha, Sukhmani Kaur, and Kallur Nava Saraswathy edited the manuscript for intellectual content and provided critical comments on the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed consent

An informed written consent was obtained from all the recruited participants.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Research Society for Study of Diabetes in India 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shivani Chandel
    • 1
  • Monika Kulshreshtha
    • 1
  • Sukhmani Kaur
    • 1
  • Naorem Kiranmala Devi
    • 1
  • Suniti Yadav
    • 1
  • Somorjit Singh Ningombam
    • 1
  • Masan Kambo Newmei
    • 1
  • Varhlun Chhungi
    • 1
  • Kallur Nava Saraswathy
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of DelhiDelhiIndia

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