BMI Might Be Inaccurate Assessment of Obesity Among Minorities, Study Finds
The standard body mass index measurement -- a ratio of weight to height -- does not account for differences in bone and muscle masses of minorities and inaccurately over- and underestimates obesity among some groups, according to a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, Reuters Health reports. The measurement is based on older studies of white adults and thus might not give an accurate assessment of all racial groups, Reuters Health reports.
For the study, lead researcher Andrew Jackson of the University of Houston and colleagues examined data on more than 1,300 young adults and found that standard BMI overestimated the prevalence of obesity among blacks and underestimated the problem among Hispanic women, Asian women and adults of Indian descent.
Researchers used a technique called DXA to determine body fat, finding that people of different races had a different percentage of body fat for any given BMI number. For instance, black men's body fat percentage was nearly 5% lower on average than white men's and black women's was about 2% lower on average than white women's. In addition, researchers found that blacks tended to have larger bones and denser muscles, and as a result their weight might have been inaccurately categorized as obese. The reverse appeared to be true for other ethnic groups, according to the report (Norton, Reuters Health, 4/15).
An abstract of the study is available online.