Bergel, M. L.1; Cesani, M. F.1; Cordero, M. L.2; Navazo, B.3; Olmedo, S.4; Quintero, F.1,3; Sardi, M.5; Torres, M. F.1,6; ArÃ©chiga, J.7; MÃ©ndez de PÃ©rez, B.8; MarrodÃ¡n, M. D.9
Introduction: Body Mass Index (BMI) is a useful tool for assessing nutritional status in childhood and adolescence. Although there is no consensus on BMI values or cutoffs to be used for the diagnosis of overweight, obesity and underweight references proposed by World Health Organization (WHO) and International Obesity Task Force (IOTF) are the most accepted. However, there are significant discrepancies in the results obtained in terms of either reference.
Objective: To analyze and compare the nutritional status of an international sample from IMC, by simultaneous application of IOTF and WHO recommended references.
Methods: 1289 schoolchildren’s BMI between 10 and 13 years of Mexico, Venezuela and Spain was estimated. Each child was assigned a nutritional category (underweight, normal weight, overweight and obese) using the IOTF criteria (points cut equivalent to 18,5, 25 and 30 in adults) and WHO (-1 SD: low weight +1 DE: overweight and +2 SD: obesity). The prevalence of nutritional status of each criterion was compared using the Chi-square test.
Results: The percentage of students in each of the nutritional categories mottled significantly depending on the reference used. The prevalence of excess or defect malnutrition, in both sexes and in all three countries, was exceeded using the WHO parameters. WHO reference showed 10,9% less than well-nourished children and 13,1 % more malnourished than the IOTF.
Discussion: The results of this research allow inferring that the reference proposed by WHO appears to be more “protecting” when identifying malnourished individuals. The importance of specifying the criteria for determination of nutritional status in epidemiologic studies, as well as to contrast the references used for diagnosis, is emphasized.
Conclusions: The WHO BMI references overestimate the prevalence of underweight, overweight and obesity in relation to the cutoff points proposed by the IOTF for diagnosing malnutrition.