BMI Rates Poorly Reflect the Magnitude of the Obesity Crisis


More Americans may be obese than body mass index (BMI) rates suggest, according to a new study published in the journal PLoS One and co-authored by the now New York City Commissioner of Public Health Nirav R. Shah, reported the Los Angeles Times.

The situation appears particularly bleak for women over 50. While their BMIs may suggest they have a healthy fat-to-lean-body-mass ratio, they could be dangerously overweight.

The study uses the expensive diagnostic test called dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA), which is commonly used to evaluate bone density. Researchers also applied fat-composition standards used by the American Society for Bariatric Physicians.

Men thought to be obese by BMI standards, on the other hand, were more often than women recategorized as normal/healthy.

Nonetheless, obesity rates overall appear higher than previously thought. The study suggests the one third of Americans currently classified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as overweight may actually be obese, reported WebMd.

“We may be much further behind than we thought” in addressing the nation's obesity crisis, concluded New York physician Eric Braverman and Shah.

In an interview with The Times, Braverman promoted more exercise and sleep as well as healthy eating, rather than strictly focusing on weight loss.