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Associations of body mass index and waist circumference with: energy intake and percentage energy from macronutrients, in a cohort of australian children

Sarah A Elliott1, Helen Truby2*, Amanda Lee3, Catherine Harper4, Rebecca A Abbott5 and Peter SW Davies1

Author Affiliations

1 The University of Queensland, Children's Nutrition Research Centre, School of Medicine, Royal Children's Hospital, Brisbane, Australia

2 Monash University, Southern Clinical School, Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Clayton VIC 3168, Australia

3 Nutrition and Physical Activity Health Promotion Branch, Queensland Health, Brisbane, QLD 4001, Australia

4 Planning and Development Unit, Population Health Queensland, Queensland Health, Brisbane, QLD 4001, Australia

5 School of Human Movement Studies, University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD, 4069, Australia

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Nutrition Journal 2011, 10:58  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-10-58

Published: 26 May 2011



It is evident from previous research that the role of dietary composition in relation to the development of childhood obesity remains inconclusive. Several studies investigating the relationship between body mass index (BMI), waist circumference (WC) and/or skin fold measurements with energy intake have suggested that the macronutrient composition of the diet (protein, carbohydrate, fat) may play an important contributing role to obesity in childhood as it does in adults. This study investigated the possible relationship between BMI and WC with energy intake and percentage energy intake from macronutrients in Australian children and adolescents.


Height, weight and WC measurements, along with 24 h food and drink records (FDR) intake data were collected from 2460 boys and girls aged 5-17 years living in the state of Queensland, Australia.


Statistically significant, yet weak correlations between BMI z-score and WC with total energy intake were observed in grades 1, 5 and 10, with only 55% of subjects having a physiologically plausible 24 hr FDR. Using Pearson correlations to examine the relationship between BMI and WC with energy intake and percentage macronutrient intake, no significant correlations were observed between BMI z-score or WC and percentage energy intake from protein, carbohydrate or fat. One way ANOVAs showed that although those with a higher BMI z-score or WC consumed significantly more energy than their lean counterparts.


No evidence of an association between percentage macronutrient intake and BMI or WC was found. Evidently, more robust longitudinal studies are needed to elucidate the relationship linking obesity and dietary intake.

BMI; waist circumference; macronutrient intake; energy intake; children; obesity