Measuring obesity



Obesity is a situation related to having an extra quantity of physique fats. The situation could also be as a result of genetic, hormonal, behavioural, and environmental elements which might be troublesome to regulate when trying to lose weight. It is likely one of the most pervasive continual medical illnesses that’s at present in want of latest methods for prevention and remedy.

Obesity considerably will increase an individual’s danger of illnesses and health issues corresponding to sleep apnea, coronary heart illness, hypertension, diabetes, and sure cancers. Consequently, even modest weight loss via applicable weight-reduction plan and exercise could make a distinction to an individual’s size of life (longevity) in addition to high quality of life. Prescription drugs and weight-loss (bariatric) surgical procedure have additionally been required for individuals with extreme obesity.



Because of the elevated health dangers related to obesity, health promotion efforts have typically targeted on decreasing the incidence and prevalence of obesity all through the inhabitants. How we measure obesity, nevertheless, has been in flux these days.

There are easy measures, reminiscent of pinching up the fats on the underside of an individual’s higher arm, and if the fats raised is above 2”, then that individual is overweight.

The girth of the stomach has additionally served as a comparatively straightforward technique of figuring out obesity, whereby waist circumference above 40” in males and above 35” in ladies is decided to be overweight.

A extra scientific calculation which includes the physique metabolic index (BMI) that makes use of height and weight within the components kg/m₂, the place weight is in kilogrammes and height is in metres squared, has been in current use. A BMI over 25 is taken into account obese, and over 30 is assessed as overweight.



However, new analysis has indicated that a relative fats mass (RFM) equation, based mostly on height-to-waist circumference ratio, higher predicts the share of whole-body fats in women and men than does the BMI. This RFM equation has resulted in fewer situations of mis-classification into the obesity classes (delicate, average, extreme and morbid obesity) in each sexes and in all of the ethnic teams examined.

Although used to evaluate physique fatness, BMI has been discovered to have restricted accuracy in estimating physique fats proportion, and so easy and low-cost options to BMI which have higher diagnostic accuracy for obesity in each sexes at the moment are thought-about to be of higher worth and significance.

Consequently, within the inhabitants that was researched and the findings revealed within the journal Scientific Reports, RFM was discovered to be extra correct than BMI in estimating whole-body fats proportion amongst men and women, and improved on the mis-classification of physique fat-defined obesity amongst grownup people of European, African, and Mexican ethnicity within the USA.

The researchers, nevertheless, beneficial that it’s essential for docs to think about what impact any extra weight may need on a affected person’s health.



To develop and validate RFM, the researchers used two units of knowledge from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey within the USA. Percentages of whole-body fats have been measured utilizing dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. They thought-about over 350 anthropometric measures (referring to the measurements, and proportions of the human physique) so as to arrive at a easy, anthropometric linear equation that was extra correct than normal BMI.

The height/waist equation (relative fats mass) was the ultimate mannequin chosen due to its simplicity. Use of this new equation (RFM) extra precisely categorised women and men when it comes to the varied classes of obesity throughout ethnic teams, and amongst younger, middle-age, and older adults who have been concerned within the analysis.

As a excessive physique fats proportion has been related to elevated mortality (danger of dying), these findings have been thought-about essential for health promotion throughout all populations.



Another helpful consideration with regard to health is the precise distribution of fats over the physique. Fat deposited centrally within the physique has been related to diabetes, fatty liver illness, and a number of other metabolic abnormalities — to a larger diploma than physique fats that has been accrued peripherally.

For the relative fats mass to be dependable nevertheless, an individual’s waist circumference needs to be precisely measured. This is greatest completed by somebody educated and skilled in doing the measurement, since large variations might happen relying on what’s measured as waist circumference, and the way and the place the measurement is taken.

In the top, the extent of health care wanted will depend upon the medical indicators of illness, and the RFM calculation might properly grow to be a fantastic epidemiological software in predicting and managing main metabolic illnesses like obesity and its sequelae.


Dr Derrick Aarons MD, PhD, is a marketing consultant bioethicist and household doctor; a specialist in moral points in health care, analysis, and the life sciences; the health registrar and head of the health secretariat for the Turks & Caicos Islands; and a member of UNESCO’s International Bioethics Committee.

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