National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey : 2021 anthropometry procedures manual
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National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey : 2021 anthropometry procedures manual

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      Anthropometry is the study of the measurement of the human body in terms of the dimensions of bone, muscle, and adipose (fat) tissue. The word “anthropometry” is derived from the Greek word “anthropo” meaning “human” and the Greek word “metron” meaning “measure.” The field of anthropometry encompasses a variety of human body measurements. Weight, stature (standing height), recumbent length, skinfold thicknesses, circumferences (head, waist, limb), limb lengths, and breadths (shoulder, wrist) are examples of anthropometric measures.

      Several indexes and ratios can be derived from anthropometric measurements. Perhaps the most well-known indicator of body fat is the body mass index or “BMI.” BMI values are calculated for National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) participants using measured height and weight values as follows: weight (kilograms)/height squared (meters). The BMI is used to assess weight status in children and adolescents as well as adults. For children and adolescents, cutoff criteria are based on the gender-specific BMI-for-age growth charts: underweight (BMI values < 5th percentile); healthy weight (BMI values 5th-84th percentiles); overweight (BMI values 85th-94th percentiles); and obesity (BMI values ≥ 95th percentile) (Barlow, 2007). For adults, cutoff criteria are fixed: underweight (BMI values < 18.5); normal weight (BMI values 18.5-24.9); overweight (BMI values 25.0-29.9); obese—Class I (BMI values 30.0-34.9); obese—Class II (BMI values 35.0-39.9); and extremely obese—Class III (BMI values > 40.0) (National Institutes of Health, 1998). The NHANES BMI results are used to track weight trends in the U.S. population. The National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and many other research groups have reported on the health risks associated with overweight and obesity using NHANES interview and health examination data.


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