Redefining obesity's health risks: Scientists make the case for new body fat assessment

Oct 19, 2009

The body mass index (BMI) has long been the yardstick in deciding who is at risk because of their weight. BMI is essentially a measure of density, identifying 'under-' and 'over-weight' risk groups. Recent studies however point towards a more sophisticated approach to the issue.

In a recent article for F1000 Biology Reports, Manfred J Müller and colleagues at the University of Kiel in Germany explain how 'functional' body composition analysis (BCA) measures more of the variables that determine whether or not obesity is 'benign'.

Recent studies using similar analysis suggest that up to 30% of obese people do not in fact require medical treatment. Widespread adoption of BCA could significantly improve the targeting of limited healthcare resources in the context of one of modern society's global killers.

Thanks to advances in imaging technology, variables - such as the body's fat proportion, location and distribution and the size of and fat droplets within these cells - can now be factored into the health risk assessment.

Coupled with a better understanding of the interrelation between genes, environment, hormone levels and metabolism, BCA gives clinicians a clearer picture of the specific health risks to an individual.

In light of the growing evidence in favour of functional BCA, the authors conclude that "the definitions of both 'overweight' and 'malnutrition' should be reconsidered" by clinicians and researchers. Evidently, size does still matter but it's what you do with it that really counts.

More information: Subscribers can view the full text of the evaluation at f1000biology.com/reports/10.3410/B1-75/

Source: Faculty of 1000: Biology and Medicine

Explore further: New compounds protect nervous system from the structural damage of MS

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Strong link between obesity and colorectal cancer

Dec 14, 2007

A clear, direct link between obesity and colorectal cancer, the second most common form of cancer in Australia with more than 12,000 new cases each year, has been shown in a new analysis by The George Institute for International ...

Recommended for you

Mystery of the reverse-wired eyeball solved

Feb 27, 2015

From a practical standpoint, the wiring of the human eye - a product of our evolutionary baggage - doesn't make a lot of sense. In vertebrates, photoreceptors are located behind the neurons in the back of the eye - resulting ...

Neurons controlling appetite made from skin cells

Feb 27, 2015

Researchers have for the first time successfully converted adult human skin cells into neurons of the type that regulate appetite, providing a patient-specific model for studying the neurophysiology of weight ...

Quality control for adult stem cell treatment

Feb 27, 2015

A team of European researchers has devised a strategy to ensure that adult epidermal stem cells are safe before they are used as treatments for patients. The approach involves a clonal strategy where stem cells are collected ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.