Not so implausible: impact of longitudinal assessment of implausible anthropometric measures on obesity prevalence and weight change in children and adolescents

Janne Boone-Heinonen, Carrie J. Tillotson, Jean P. O'Malley, Miguel Marino, Sarah B. Andrea, Andrew Brickman, Jennifer DeVoe, Jon Puro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations


Purpose: Implausible anthropometric measures are typically identified using population outlier definitions, conflating implausible and extreme measures. We determined the impact of a longitudinal outlier approach on prevalence of body mass index (BMI) categories and mean change in anthropometric measures in pediatric electronic health record data. Methods: We examined 996,131 observations from 147,375 children (10–18 years) in the ADVANCE Clinical Data Research Network, a national network of community health centers. Sex-stratified, mixed effects, linear spline regression modeled weight, height, and BMI as a function of age. Longitudinal outliers were defined as observations with studentized residual greater than |6|; population outliers were defined by Centers for Disease Control-defined z-score thresholds. Results: At least 99.7% of anthropometric measures were not extreme by longitudinal or population definitions (agreement ≥ 0.995). BMI category prevalence after excluding longitudinal or population outliers differed by less than 0.1%. Among children greater than 85th percentile at baseline, annual mean changes in anthropometric measures were larger in data that excluded longitudinal (girls: 1.24 inches, 12.39 pounds, 1.53 kg/m 2 ; boys: 2.34, 14.08, 1.07) versus population outliers (girls: 0.61 inches, 8.22 pounds, 0.75 kg/m 2 ; boys: 1.53, 11.61, 0.48). Conclusions: Longitudinal outlier methods may reduce underestimation of anthropometric change in children with elevated baseline values.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)69-74.e5
JournalAnnals of Epidemiology
StatePublished - Mar 2019



  • Anthropometry
  • Biologically implausible values
  • Body mass index
  • Longitudinal
  • Obesity
  • Outliers
  • Youth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology

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