The implication is “practical” and the authors call for it to be generalized to all primary care services: this would involve equipping them with devices to measure the percentage of body fat and converting this metric into the reference measure to define obesity.
Body fat percentage, rather than BMI, should become the benchmark
The study examined weight, height, and body fat data and health outcomes from approximately 3,000 participants to conclude that body fat percentage is a much more reliable indicator of overall health and cardiometabolic risk than BMI, but is still more widely used.
- About a third of the participants, or 1,000 people, were within the normal weight range;
- Among these participants, 38.5% of women and 26.5% of men were identified as “obese with normal weight”, that is, with excess fat despite having a normal weight;
- analysis of blood markers identifies a significant correlation between “normal weight obesity” and elevated levels of sugar, fat and cholesterol, or with important risk factors for cardiometabolic diseases;
- 30% of men and 10% of women identified as overweight, however, had a normal body fat percentage.
What are good reference points? Lead author Professor Yftach Gepner from TAU explains: “More than 60% of the country’s adults are overweight. The basic index used for diagnosis is BMI, based on weight and height measurements; However, despite the obvious and intuitive link between excess weight and obesity, the actual measurement of obesity in the East
- Body fat content, with normal maximum values set at 25% for men and 35% for women.
The obesity paradox best explained: lThe disparity between both indices has generated this phenomenon called “the obesity paradox.” Thus, in this study, one in 10 participants identified as overweight had a completely normal body fat level.
Ultimately, the number of people misidentified as obese remains very modest compared to the number of people not identified as obese and yet suffering from obesity based on their body fat percentage. These people who are in the norm according to the current BMI index, generally go unnoticed and are not examined as if they have a higher risk of suffering from this cardiometabolic disease.
Therefore, we will remember this message: Body fat percentage is a more reliable indicator of an individual’s overall health than BMI. Therefore, the metric “should become the standard for health assessments: Skinfold assessment, which estimates body fat based on the thickness of the fat layer beneath the skin, should “return to service.”