According to a recent study published in Annals of Internal Medicine, body composition is a useful predictor of an individual’s mortality risks and health status. Before, many people believed a person’s body mass index (BMI), a measurement of body fat based on weight and height, was a better predictor of health. Now, some research has shown the people who have been considered moderately obese, according to BMI, are living longer than those living with similar health conditions who are not considered obese.
Doctor William D. Leslie, a professor from the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada states that BMI does not provide an entire picture when it comes to a person’s actual health condition. She adds, “Being underweight can be as harmful as being overweight. It’s really excess fat that contributes to mortality.”
In a study, researchers measured 50,000 participants’ body fat using a dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry, also referred to as a DXA. At the end of the study, researchers concluded the following:
- Higher body fat percentages were directly associated with increased mortality rates.
- Women and men who had large amounts of body fat were more likely to die in the next 4.5 to 6.7 years.
- Men who ranked in the top 20% of the study had no less than 36% body fat.
- Women who ranked in the top 20% of the study had no less than 39% body fat.
- Men in the top 20% were 59% more likely to die during the study period than men in the 28-32% body fat range.
- Women in the top 20% were 19% more likely to die during the study period than women in the 30-40% body fat range.
- Persons who were considered obese by only BMI standards did not have an increased risk for death.
Authors of the study stated that many people who had higher BMIs had more muscle than fat on their bodies, creating a faulty yet popular association between BMI and mortality.
How Can This New Study Affect Standards for Bariatric Procedures?
The American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery stated that there is no evidence of the cost-effectiveness, clinical effectiveness, ethics, or equity that proves past BMI thresholds were accurate. As a result, the association believes that other factors must be examined before excluding a treatment due to a BMI measurement alone.
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