BMI, or body mass index, is the most widely used measurement to determine if a person is of normal weight. However, experts have long debated if this is the best measurement tool and if it’s an accurate reflection of obesity.
A new team from West Virginia University has created a new measurement that focuses on surface area. Their index, the SBSI or surface-based body shape index, focuses on the body’s surface area, vertical trunk circumference, height and waist circumference.
The team from WVU analyzed data from more than 11,808 people aged 18 to 85 and developed their new standard. As the scientists said, “The BMI provides a simple coarse measure of the body shape. Two people in the same BMI category could have very different body shapes, and different body sizes. The distribution of body weight, rather than the absolute weight, is a key factor in predicting health risk.”
As they point out, a person whose body weight is centered in their midsection is at much greater risk for disease and premature death than is someone whose weight is more evenly distributed.
They put their new measurement to the test. As they explained, “Applying SBSI initially gives reasonable performance when compared with existing body shape measures.”
Their findings were published in the journal PLOS One.