Early growth stunting has been associated with modifications in body composition and its direction differs with the local environment. Data on the association between body composition with growth and the influence of socioeconomic strata (SES) on the same is scarce in Indian adolescents.
To examine (i) associations of SES with body composition and growth (ii) relationships between body composition and lifestyle factors (physical activity, diet) across SES (iii) interrelationship between body composition and growth.
A cross-sectional study on apparently healthy adolescents (10-14years, n=604) from different SES, was conducted in Gujarat, Western India. Outcome parameters included anthropometry, body composition, moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and dietary intake.
84%, 66% and 39% boys, whereas 61%, 43% and 26% girls from upper, middle and lower SES respectively, were underfat; amongst upper SES, 22% boys and 8% girls were obese (p<0.001). 24% boys and 19% girls from lower SES were stunted (HAZ<-2) (p<0.001). In all SES, %fat mass (FM) showed an inverse correlation, while %fat free mass (FFM) showed a positive correlation with MVPA. Comparing the prevalence of stunting across the %body fat categories revealed that 15% of the underfat boys and 16% of the underfat girls were stunted (p<0.001).
SES shows a significant impact on body composition with a majority of lower SES adolescents being underfat. Underfat adolescents were at a greater risk of being stunted.