Objective: There are no percentile curves for BMI, waist circumference (WC) or waist-to-height ratio (WHIR) available for Portuguese children and adolescents. The purpose of the present study was to develop age- and sex-specific BMI, WC and WHtR percentile curves for a representative sample of adolescents living in the Portuguese islands of Azores, one of the poorest regions of Europe, and to compare them with those from other countries. Design: Cross-sectional school-based study. Weight, height and WC were objectively measured according to standard procedures. Smoothed percentile curves were estimated using Cole's LMS method. Setting: Azores, Portugal. Subjects: Proportionate stratified random sample of 1500 adolescents, aged 15-18 years. Results: Results showed some sex differences in the shape of the BMI curves: in girls, the upper percentile values tend to decrease by the age of 16 and 17 years; whereas in boys, the upper percentiles tend to be flat between 15 and 16 years and then increase until the age of 18 years. In both sexes, the upper percentile values of both WC and WHtR decreased slightly by the age of 16 years and then increased steeply. In both sexes, the Azorean values for the 50th and 90th WC percentiles were higher than those reported for adolescents from the majority of other countries. Conclusions: The reference curves presented herein provide baseline data for the long-term surveillance of Azorean adolescents, as well as for national and international comparisons.
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