Document Type



Local reference data, rather than international standards of reference, have been recommended for use in assessing body composition and nutritional status. To be valid for such use, the local data must be derived from a population that is adequately defined, free of significant morbidity and malnutrition, and large enough to avoid sampling error. This paper presents smoothed percentile distributions for the triceps and subscapular skinfolds of healthy, well nourished children and youth 5 to 18 years old. The sample is based on 5,129 examinations (2,830 males and 2,299 females). The subjects are drawn from a population of students of high socioeconomic status (SES), attending a private school in Guatemala City. Systematic and biologically significant differences exist between this local sample and the widely used reference data of the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). The local and international reference data are also compared to the triceps and subscapular skinfold measurements of a sample of low SES children living in Guatemala City. It is found that, in general, Guatemalan children and youth, both the economically privileged and disadvantaged, have less fat on their arms and more on their trunks than do the subjects measured for the NCHS standards. Thus, the Guatemalan reference data appear to be more appropriate to use when evaluations of body composition and nutritional status are made for other groups of Guatemalan children and youth.