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Comparison of different BMI cut-offs to screen for child and adolescent obesity in urban China

  • Kun Qian (a1), Linglin Tan (a2), Shijian Li (a3), Ziang Li (a1), Feng Yu (a2), Huigang Liang (a4), Sihan Gao (a5), Xiaofan Ren (a1), Jing Zhang (a1) and Zhiruo Zhang (a1)...



To determine which set of BMI cut-offs is the most appropriate to define child and adolescent obesity in urban China.


A cross-sectional study was carried out between 1 November and 31 December in 2017.


Community Healthcare Center in Minhang District, Shanghai, China.


A total of 12 426 children and adolescents aged 7–17 years were selected by cluster random sampling. Bioelectrical impedance analysis was the gold standard to measure body composition.


Comparisons of three sets of BMI cut-offs by sensitivity and κ value revealed that the Working Group on Obesity in China (WGOC) (sensitivity 39·9–84·0 %; κ 0·51–0·79) and WHO (sensitivity 25·5–74·5 %; κ 0·35–0·78) cut-offs were not superior to the International Obesity Task Force (IOTF) (sensitivity 47·9–92·4 %; κ 0·58–0·85) cut-offs across all subgroups. The WGOC and WHO cut-offs yielded higher misclassification rates, in the worst case, categorising 11·2 % of girls with high adiposity as normal and 44·4 % of them as overweight, while the IOTF cut-offs categorised 2·3 % as normal and 30·7 % as overweight. Individuals who were classified by the IOTF cut-offs as overweight had the lowest ratios of high adiposity (4·2–41·6 %) than by the BMI cut-offs for each subgroup. Among pubertal girls, none of the BMI-based cut-offs indicated excellent agreement with body fat percentage, and κ value of the WHO cut-offs (0·35 (95 % CI 0·29, 0·41)) was lower than the other two sets of BMI cut-offs (all P < 0·001).


The IOTF cut-offs for Asian should be recommended for child obesity screening in urban China. Pubertal individuals need a more accurate indicator of obesity screening.


Corresponding author

*Corresponding author: Email


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These authors contributed equally as co-first authors.



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Comparison of different BMI cut-offs to screen for child and adolescent obesity in urban China

  • Kun Qian (a1), Linglin Tan (a2), Shijian Li (a3), Ziang Li (a1), Feng Yu (a2), Huigang Liang (a4), Sihan Gao (a5), Xiaofan Ren (a1), Jing Zhang (a1) and Zhiruo Zhang (a1)...


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