Forget BMI: British scientists have discovered a more effective way to measure obesity

Anastasia Kryshchuk

Forget BMI: British scientists have discovered a more effective way to measure obesity
Study proves low effectiveness of BMI. Source: Pixabay

The traditional approach to assessing body mass index (BMI) has not demonstrated sufficient effectiveness in determining the degree of obesity. However, for many years, this method has served as an affordable way to assess the level of obesity in children.

According to the latest scientific data, BMI is not able to adequately distinguish fat mass from muscle mass, which reduces its accuracy in diagnosing childhood obesity. Scientists believe that the best indicator for this is the waist-to-height ratio (WHtR), as indicated in a study published in the journal Nature.

During the 15-year research project, a group of researchers monitored the health of 7237 British children, including 3667 girls and 3570 boys. They analyzed total body fat and body fat using a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometer (DEXA), taking measurements at the ages of 9, 11, 15, 17, and 24. At each measurement, body mass index (BMI) and waist-to-height ratio (WHtR) were also determined, which showed stability and similarity to DEXA results.

"This is the first ever longitudinal study of more than 7,000 children followed for 15 years to identify WHtR as an inexpensive, accurate measure that distinguishes fat mass from lean mass. ...Waist-to-height ratio (WHtR) is a better surrogate measure of obesity than body mass index (BMI) for predicting fat mass and distinguishing lean mass from childhood to adolescence," the article says.

Based on these data, the researchers concluded that WHtR can be an effective substitute for IMT in pediatric practice.

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