Sterck, E. H. M., Zijlmans, D. G. M., de Vries, H., et al. 2019. Determining overweight and underweight with a new weight‐for‐height index in captive group‐housed macaques. American Journal of Primatology 81(6), e22996.
Housing primates in naturalistic groups provides social benefits relative to solitary housing. However, food intake may vary across individuals, possibly resulting in overweight and underweight individuals. Information on relative adiposity (the amount of fat tissue relative to body weight) is needed to monitor overweight and underweight of group‐housed individuals. However, the upper and lower relative adiposity boundaries are currently only known for macaques living solitarily in small cages. We determined the best measure of relative adiposity and explored the boundaries of overweight and underweight to investigate their incidence in group‐housed adult male and female rhesus macaques and long‐tailed macaques living in spacious enclosures at the Biomedical Primate Research Centre (BPRC), the Netherlands. During yearly health checks different relative adiposity measures were obtained. For long‐tailed macaques, comparable data on founder and wild animals were also available. Weight‐for‐height indices (WHI) with height to the power of 3.0 (WHI3.0) for rhesus macaques and 2.7 (WHI2.7) for long‐tailed macaques were optimally independent of height and were highly correlated with other relative adiposity measures. The boundary for overweight was similar in group‐housed and solitary‐housed macaques. A lower boundary for underweight, based on 2% body fat similar to wild primates, gave a better estimate for underweight in group‐housed macaques. We propose that for captive group‐housed rhesus macaques relative adiposity should range between 42 and 67 (WHI3.0) and for long‐tailed macaques between 39 and 62 (WHI2.7). The majority of group‐housed macaques in this facility have a normal relative adiposity, a considerable proportion (17–23%) is overweight, and a few (0–3%) are underweight.