Blog | Wednesday, March 9, 2011

QD: News Every Day--Adiposity, or making the apples-to-pears comparison

Researchers have proposed a simple assessment for adiposity that uses just a tape measure.

Photo by D. Sharon Pruitt / Pink Sherbet Photography via Flickr and Creative Commons licenseThe 19th Century method of calculating body-mass index (BMI) is routinely used, despite caveats that it may vary among people with differing body builds and may not apply to some populations, such as athletes. The most accurate measures are technologically complex, costly and time consuming, including underwater weighing, dual-energy X-ray absorption (DXA), computed tomography scans and magnetic resonance imaging. Impedance analysis and skin-fold tests are inaccurate.

In proposing a 21st century method, researchers considered two parameters, hip circumference and height. There is no significant correlation between them, so they may each contribute to adiposity.

So, researchers proposed the following formula to derive the body adiposity index: (BAI=((hip circumference)/((height)1.5)–18)). They published their research in the journal Obesity.

Researchers used a population study, the "BetaGene" study among Hispanics, to develop the new index. They then confirmed results by DXA and then validated results against the "Triglyceride and Cardiovascular Risk in African-Americans (TARA)" study.

BAI can be measured by a tape measure and without weighing, making it useful in settings that lack even basic tools such as a scale, the authors wrote.

"[Percentage adiposity] could be well estimated without using a mechanical or electronic assessment of body weight. Thus, even in remote environments where only the simplest and least expensive tools are available (a tape measure), a reliable estimate of adiposity may be obtained," the authors wrote.

Results now need to be carried into whites, and also compared to the BMI as a marker for overall health.