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PLoS By Category | Recent PLoS Articles
Diabetes and Endocrinology - Oncology - Pediatrics and Child Health - Public Health and Epidemiology

Obesity Is Underestimated Using Body Mass Index and Waist-Hip Ratio in Long-Term Adult Survivors of Childhood Cancer
Published: Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Author: Karin Blijdorp et al.

by Karin Blijdorp, Marry M. van den Heuvel-Eibrink, Rob Pieters, Annemieke M. Boot, Patric J. D. Delhanty, Aart-Jan van der Lely, Sebastian J. C. M. M. Neggers

Objective

Obesity, represented by high body mass index (BMI), is a major complication after treatment for childhood cancer. However, it has been shown that high total fat percentage and low lean body mass are more reliable predictors of cardiovascular morbidity. In this study longitudinal changes of BMI and body composition, as well as the value of BMI and waist-hip ratio representing obesity, were evaluated in adult childhood cancer survivors.

Methods

Data from 410 survivors who had visited the late effects clinic twice were analyzed. Median follow-up time was 16 years (interquartile range 11–21) and time between visits was 3.2 years (2.9–3.6). BMI was measured and body composition was assessed by dual X-ray absorptiometry (DXA, Lunar Prodigy; available twice in 182 survivors). Data were compared with healthy Dutch references and calculated as standard deviation scores (SDS). BMI, waist-hip ratio and total fat percentage were evaluated cross-sectionally in 422 survivors, in who at least one DXA scan was assessed.

Results

BMI was significantly higher in women, without significant change over time. In men BMI changed significantly with time (?SDS?=?0.19, P<0.001). Percentage fat was significantly higher than references in all survivors, with the highest SDS after cranial radiotherapy (CRT) (mean SDS 1.73 in men, 1.48 in women, P<0.001). Only in men, increase in total fat percentage was significantly higher than references (?SDS?=?0.22, P<0.001). Using total fat percentage as the gold standard, 65% of female and 42% of male survivors were misclassified as non-obese using BMI. Misclassification of obesity using waist-hip ratio was 40% in women and 24% in men.

Conclusions

Sixteen years after treatment for childhood cancer, the increase in BMI and total fat percentage was significantly greater than expected, especially after CRT. This is important as we could show that obesity was grossly underestimated using BMI and waist-hip ratio.

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