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obesity rates
body mass index
plos one
bone density
body fat percentage
physical fitness
better sense
BMI Is Imperfect, According To Study: Obesity Rates May Be Worse Than Feared
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BMI is Imperfect, According to Study: Obesity Rates May Be Worse Than Feared

Some US doctors have already expressed their distaste for using the body mass index with their patients but a new study may reveal that using BMI alone may be causing more problems than previously thought. According to a new study, that measure of weight and height may be overly simplistic and may be failing to show the whole picture of health and physical fitness versus numbers on a scale or chart.

According to a study published in the journal PLoS ONE, if the BMI charts are readjusted to make better sense, at least four in every ten adults would be reclassified from their current designation of overweight to obese. That study suggests adding the body fat percentage consideration when looking at BMI numbers. Eric Braverman, MD is the president of a nonprofit group in New York City called Path Foundations. That group focuses on brain related research. Braverman makes the point that body builders, some top in their field, would be considered obese by using just BMI alone.

Researchers suggest lowering the obesity numbers from their current levels to 24 for women and 28 for men. A woman who is five foot, six inches would be obese at 150 pounds while a man at five, eleven would be obese at 200 pounds. However, there is a large discrepancy between the body mass index and a person's body fat percentage in most cases. But, trying to change the national standards for weight measuring is difficult at best.

To show how that discrepancy can be a problem, Dr. Braverman cited the example of an obviously fit bodybuilder versus a woman in her fifties who does not exercise at all. By simply using BMI, the body builder would be ranked as obese while the woman would have a "normal" weight. But, by including the body fat percentage, the woman who is sedentary would be more likely to be ranked as overweight or obese.

The study used the BMI numbers for more than 1400 men and women and then compared those numbers to their body fat percentages via a scan which is frequently used to determine bone density. Researchers found that nearly forty percent of those that were only overweight by their BMI would technically be obese by their body fat percentage. The American Society of Bariatric Physicians warns that BMI is the most inaccurate for women, especially those who are in their fifties or older. Researchers acknowledge that changing guidelines would be difficult, especially when doing so would make the obesity rates so much higher.


Street Talk

Good things to know, thanks Amie.

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  about 7 years ago
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