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Ward, Leigh C., Poston, Lucilla, Godfrey, Keith M. and Koletzko, Berthold (2013): Assessing Early Growth and Adiposity: Report from an Early Nutrition Academy Workshop. In: Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, Vol. 63, No. 1-2: pp. 120-130 [PDF, 920kB]


This report provides a summary of a workshop organised by the EuropeanCommission-funded EarlyNutrition Project and the EarlyNutrition Academy.Accurate and reliable methods to assess body composition are needed inresearch on prenatal and early post-natal influences of nutrition onlater health because common surrogate measures of maternal and offspringadiposity (body fat content), such as body mass index (BMI), haverelatively poor predictive power for the risk of later disease. The keygoals of the workshop were to discuss approaches to assess growth andbody composition from pregnancy to adolescence, to summarise conclusionsand to prepare a framework for research in the EarlyNutrition Project.The participants concluded that there is a pressing need to harmonisethe methodologies for assessing body composition, recognising that eachhas advantages and limitations. Essential core measurements acrossstudies assessing early growth and body composition were identified,including weight, length, BMI, waist and mid-upper arm circumference,subscapular and triceps skinfold thicknesses, and bioelectricalimpedance analysis. In research settings with access to moresophisticated technologies, additional methods could include dual-energyX-ray absorptiometry, peripheral quantitative computed tomography,ultrasound assessment of regional body fat, magnetic resonance imaging(MRI), air displacement plethysmography (ADP), and deuterium dilution.These provide richer data to answer research questions in greater depthbut also increase costs. Where overall whole-body composition is theprimary outcome measure, ADP or tracer dilution should be used wheneverpossible. Where regional distribution of body fat is of greaterinterest, an imaging technique such as MRI is preferred.

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