Epidemiology of elevated triciptal and subscapular skinfolds in adolescents

The objective of this study was to describe and compare the tricipital (TSF) and subscapular skinfold (SSF) thickness according to demographic, socioeconomic, behavioral, and biological characteristics in adolescents from Pelotas, Rio Grande do Sul State, Brazil. A cross-sectional study nested in a birth cohort (n = 4,452; mean age = 11 years) was conducted. The outcomes were defined as skinfold thickness > 90th percentile of the National Center for Health Statistics reference curve. The prevalence rates for elevated TSF and SSF were 20.2% and 17.3%, respectively, in boys and 14.2% and 10.5% in girls. The strongest factor associated with adiposity in boys was socioeconomic status (p < 0.001), whereas among girls it was maternal body mass index (p < 0.001). Low physical activity (< 300 minutes/week) was associated with elevated SSF only among girls, while schooling was associated with increased TSF and SSF only among boys. Diet, skin color, and sedentary behavior were not associated with any of the outcomes. We concluded that the main predictors of adiposity were maternal and socioeconomic characteristics. We recommend that further studies on this issue apply other methods to estimate body composition in order to confirm our results.

Skinfold Thickness; Anthropometry; Obesity; Adolescent


Escola Nacional de Saúde Pública Sergio Arouca, Fundação Oswaldo Cruz Rua Leopoldo Bulhões, 1480 , 21041-210 Rio de Janeiro RJ Brazil, Tel.:+55 21 2598-2511, Fax: +55 21 2598-2737 / +55 21 2598-2514 - Rio de Janeiro - RJ - Brazil
E-mail: cadernos@ensp.fiocruz.br