Int J Med Sci 2020; 17(7):881-891. doi:10.7150/ijms.41713

Research Paper

Are body circumferences able to predict strength, muscle mass and bone characteristics in obesity? A preliminary study in women

Valentina Cavedon, Chiara Milanese, Carlo Zancanaro

Laboratory of Anthropometry and Body Composition, Department of Neurosciences, Biomedicine and Movement Sciences, University of Verona, Verona, Italy

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Cavedon V, Milanese C, Zancanaro C. Are body circumferences able to predict strength, muscle mass and bone characteristics in obesity? A preliminary study in women. Int J Med Sci 2020; 17(7):881-891. doi:10.7150/ijms.41713. Available from

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Measurement of body circumferences (BCs) is widely used as an anthropometric tool to assess body composition and health risk in obese individuals. In this preliminary work we evaluated the association of several BCs with Dual-energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DXA)-measured lean mass as well as leg press test scores with an aim at exploring the potential of BCs as predictor of body composition and muscle strength. A total of 34 female participants aged 47.3±7.6 y who were obese (BMI, 30.4-43.7 kg/m2) were recruited. The upper arm (relaxed), wrist, chest, waist, hip, thigh, and calf circumferences were measured. The skinfold-corrected muscle (including bone) circumferences at the arm, thigh, and calf site were also calculated. Lean mass components were measured by DXA with a Hologic QDR Explorer scanner according to the manufacturer's procedures. Lower limbs strength was assessed with the 1-Repetition Maximum leg press. Bivariate association between variables was assessed with the Spearman's correlation coefficient after the Benjamini and Hochberg False Discovery Rate procedure. Predictive equations were developed using stepwise multiple regression analysis. Several statistically significant correlations (Benjamini and Hochberg corrected P [Pc] < 0.05) were present between BCs and DXA-measured body composition variables, and leg press test scores with special regard to the chest, arm, waist, and hip circumferences. Multiple regression analysis yielded statistically significant predictive models (Pc < 0.05 for all; adjusted R2 ranging 0.123 - 0.504; standard error of the estimate ranging 4.0% - 11% of the mean measured value) for all body composition as well as leg press outcomes. The current findings show that BCs represent a simple, suitable anthropometric measurement with a potential to predict several lean mass components as well as lower limbs strength in obese females. The proposed predictors need to be validated in a larger sample of participants and in obese males.

Keywords: anthropometry, body composition, mineral mass, mineral density, linear regression, prediction equation