If you’re reading this blog, chances are you’re interested in health and thus you’ve probably at least heard of body mass index (BMI), or an index that utilizes a person’s weight and height to determine a “risk” score (a BMI of less than 25 is normal; 25-30 is overweight; and over 30 is obese). The problem that a lot of people have with BMI is that it doesn’t take body composition into play. For example, you could have someone with a body builder-type build, who may have an obese BMI even though he has a very small body fat percentage. Because of this, many people have expressed frustration with the current BMI measure, and vocalized desire for a better index tool.
How to calculate your BMI
A father-son team have developed a new index called A Body Shape Index (ABSI). The ABSI takes into account one’s height, BMI, and also their waist circumference. The reason this is important is because weight circumference can be an indicator of excess abdominal fat and thus dangerous fat accumulation around one’s visceral organs.
How to calculate your ABSI
An increased/ above average ABSI correlates with an exponential increase in death rates. Death rates and ABSI are even consistent when adjusted for other risk variables, like smoking, diabetes, blood pressure, and blood cholesterol levels. The ABSI correlation also stays steady across a variety of age, gender, BMI, and white and black ethnicities. So, long story short, the ABSI “appears to be a substantial risk factor for premature mortality in the general population derivable from basic clinical measurements”.
What do I think? Honestly – I want to see more research (especially involving other ethnicities). It sounds like it could be a good idea, and from what I’ve read, the ABSI also decreases when someone makes positive changes (i.e. exercising and getting a smaller waist; losing weight and thus diminishing BMI and waist circumference). So, ABSI may be more encouraging to someone who’s trying to get healthier – they may tone up with increased exercise at first, but see frustration on the scale/ BMI when they don’t initially lose a lot of weight. However, by toning up, their waist would be smaller and thus account for a lower and healthier ABSI, which may be more motivating as they keep working towards health.
Bottom line, more research needs to be done, especially if anyone thinks ABSI should be the new standardized unit of measure. BMI is currently recognized and used by nearly all, if not all, healthcare professionals. It’ll be interesting to see over the years how the ABSI stands up to more tests and the “tried and true” nature of BMI.