Fat-free mass characteristics of Hispanic adults: Comparisons with non-Hispanic Caucasians and cadaver reference values

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Clinical Nutrition


Background: A four-compartment (4C) model quantifies fat, water, mineral and residual. As such, 4C models are more accurate than two-compartment (2C) models based off cadaver reference values (RV), which necessitate assumptions regarding fat-free mass (FFM) characteristics. Nonetheless, research has yet to determine whether the FFM characteristics of Hispanics are similar to non-Hispanic Caucasians and RV. Aim: The aim of this analysis was to compare the FFM characteristics of Hispanics to non-Hispanic Caucasians and cadaver RV. Methods: Data from 2 separate research centers were pooled to create a sample of 100 and 119 Hispanic males and females (age: 18–54 yrs; BMI: 16.46–42.27 kg/m2), respectively, and 47 and 55 non-Hispanic Caucasian males and females (age: 18–54 yrs; BMI: 16.00–36.67 kg/m2), respectively (n = 331). A 4C model was determined using bioimpedance analysis for hydration, dual energy X-ray absorptiometry for mineral, and air displacement plethysmography for body density (4C-ADP). FFM was calculated via the 4C-ADP and FFM characteristics (i.e., density [DFFM], water [TBW:FFM], bone mineral [Mo:FFM], and residual [R:FFM]) were compared between sexes and ethnicities using a one-way ANOVA and against RV via a one sample t-test. Results: In Hispanics, all FFM characteristics significantly differed from cadaver RV (all p < 0.05). In contrast, DFFM and TBW:FFM of non-Hispanic Caucasians were similar to cadaver RV for both sexes (all p > 0.05). Moreover, the R:FFM of non-Hispanic Caucasian females did not differ from cadaver RV (p = 0.403) whereas all other comparisons were significantly different (all p < 0.05). Sex comparisons within Hispanic participants revealed FFM characteristics were similar between males and females other than Mo:FFM (p < 0.001) whereas all FFM characteristics were similar between non-Hispanic Caucasian males and females (all p > 0.05). All of the ethnicity comparisons within males were statistically significant (all p < 0.05). Moreover, ethnicity comparisons within females were statistically significant for all comparisons other than Mo:FFM (p = 0.258). Conclusion: The observed differences in FFM characteristics of Hispanics as compared to non-Hispanics Caucasians and reference values indicate that allied health professionals should employ appropriate caution when estimating body composition via 2C models in Hispanic populations.

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