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BMI does not accurately predict overweight in Asian Indians in northern India

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 March 2007

V. Dudeja
Affiliation:
Department of Medicine, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi-110029, India
A. Misra*
Affiliation:
Department of Medicine, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi-110029, India
R.M. Pandey
Affiliation:
Department of Biostatistics, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi-110029, India
G. Devina
Affiliation:
Department of Medicine, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi-110029, India
G. Kumar
Affiliation:
Department of Biostatistics, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi-110029, India
N.K. Vikram
Affiliation:
Department of Medicine, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi-110029, India
*
*Corresponding author: Professor A. Misra, fax +91 11 6862663/6521041, email anoopmisra@hotmail.com
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Abstract

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Asian Indians are at high risk for the development of atherosclerosis and related complications, possibly initiated by higher body fat (BF). The present study attempted to establish appropriate cut-off levels of the BMI for defining overweight, considering percentage BF in healthy Asian Indians in northern India as the standard. A total of 123 healthy volunteers (eighty-six males aged 18–75 years and thirty-seven females aged 20–69 years) participated in the study. Clinical examination and anthropometric measurements were performed, and percentage BF was calculated. BMI for males was 21·4 (SD 3·7) KG/M2 AND FOR FEMALES WAS 23·3 (sd 5·5) kg/m2. Percentage BF was 21·3 (sd 7·6) in males and 35·4 (sd 5·0) in females. A comparison of BF data among Caucasians, Blacks, Polynesians and Asian ethnic groups (e.g. immigrant Chinese) revealed conspicuous differences. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis showed a low sensitivity and negative predictive value of the conventional cut-off value of the BMI (25 kg/m2) in identifying subjects with overweight as compared to the cut-off value based on percentage BF (males >25, females >30). This observation is particularly obvious in females, resulting in substantial misclassification. Based on the ROC curve, a lower cut-off value of the BMI (21·5 kg/m2 for males and 19·0 kg/m2 for females) displayed the optimal sensitivity and specificity, and less misclassification in identification of subjects with high percentage BF. Furthermore, a novel obesity variable, BF:BMI, was tested and should prove useful for interethnic comparison of body composition. In the northern Indian population, the conventional cut-off level of the BMI underestimates overweight and obesity when percentage BF is used as the standard to define overweight. These preliminary findings, if confirmed in a larger number of subjects and with the use of instruments having a higher accuracy of BF assessment, would be crucial for planning and the prevention and treatment of various obesity-related metabolic diseases in the Asian Indian population.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Nutrition Society 2005

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