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AACE: BMI May Underestimate Prevalence of Obesity

Dual X-ray absorptiometry scans suggest obesity rate is more than twice as high as believed

MONDAY, April 26 (HealthDay News) -- Dual X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) scans may be more accurate indicators of obesity than traditional body mass index (BMI) measurements, and suggest that the obesity epidemic is much more widespread than currently believed, according to research presented at the annual meeting of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, held from April 21 to 25 in Boston.

Eric Braverman, M.D., of the New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City, and colleagues reviewed the medical records of 1,234 patients from 2003 to 2009 at a private outpatient facility to obtain BMI measurements (from height and weight) and DEXA measurements of percentage body fat.

Compared to BMI measurements, the researchers found that a significantly higher percentage of subjects were obese according to DEXA measurements (20 and 56 percent, respectively). The results suggest that 37 percent of subjects were misclassified by BMI, according to the researchers.

"In light of the importance of the global obesity epidemic, the use of BMI should be greatly curtailed, and direct measure of adiposity should be used on large subgroups of patients often misclassified by this measure," the authors conclude. "Further analysis should help to identify which patients may need DEXA analysis in addition to standard BMI measurement, and which patients may be mislabeled as obese when using BMI. We urge additional studies to confirm these important results especially to more accurately determine the true nature of the global obesity epidemic."

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