Comparative study of mid-upper arm circumference, arm muscle area and arm fat area percentiles in Argentinean and US children aged 4-14 years

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Background: mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC), subcutaneous fat and muscle measurements are an alternative method to diagnose overweight and evaluate growth as well as protein and energy reserves. Aim: to compare MUAC, arm muscle area (AMA) and arm fat area (AFA) measurements of Argentinean boys and girls (Sa) with reference curves for US boys and girls (R). Subjects and methods: data from 22,736 school-children aged 4-14 years from six Argentinean provinces were collected. MUAC and triceps skinfold thickness were measured and the derived AMA and AFA measures were calculated. Analyses were performed with GAMLSS using the R software. Differences in mean values of Sa and R were compared in percentiles 3, 50 and 97. Results: mean values of MUAC and AMA in boys and girls were higher in R than in Sa at all ages; conversely, AFA values were lower. Conclusions: our results confirm differences in upper arm anthropometry of Argentinean school-children with respect to the US reference. The higher adipose tissue and lower skeletal muscle mass observed in Argentinean children could be partly associated with the different ethnic origin of both populations. However, differences should be interpreted in the context of an obesogenic environment, which has favored a calorie-protein imbalance.
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