Measuring obesity: results are poles apart obtained by BMI and bio-electrical impedance analysis


Objective: To analyse the use of BMI and bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) in assessment of adiposity among young and elderly population. Materials and methods: Age, height, weight and percent body fat (PBF) of 101 young and 276 elder subjects were recorded. PBF was measured directly by BIA instrument (PBFb) and also calculated from BMI (PBFf). The classification of subjects into underweight, normal, overweight and obese was based on the age- and sex-specific BMI cutoff values and PBFb following standard guidelines. Results: The calculated mean BMI values of young and old age groups were statistically same. PBF was significantly high in elder subjects. There was no statistical difference in mean PBFb and PBFf in young subjects but the difference was significant in elder subjects. The PBFf values were highly correlated (r: 0.92 to 0.96) with PBFb values in young age groups unlike elder groups of both males and females. PBFb based categorization of subjects’ presented totally different scenario compared to results obtained by BMI analysis to assess adiposity. Conclusion: The cases such as increasing fatness with aging even when BMI remains constant, the causes of country or ethnic differences in BMI analysis, poor correlation in PBFb and PBFf values in elder age group emphasize on the limitations of BMI based analysis. PBFb within limitations seems to be an improved phenotypic characteristic over BMI.

Share and Cite:

Mittal, R. , Goyal, M. , Dasude, R. , Quazi, S. and Basak, A. (2011) Measuring obesity: results are poles apart obtained by BMI and bio-electrical impedance analysis. Journal of Biomedical Science and Engineering, 4, 677-683. doi: 10.4236/jbise.2011.411084.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Obesity and overweight fact sheet, (2003) WHO.
[2] Goh, V.H., Tain, C.F., Tong, T.Y., et al. (2004) Are BMI and other anthropometric measures appropriate as indices for obesity?—A study in an Asian population. Journal of lipid research, 45, 1892-1898. doi:10.1194/jlr.M400159-JLR200
[3] Sood, A., Sundararaj, P., Sharma, S., et al. (2007) BMI and body fat percent: affluent adolescent girls in Bangalore city. Indian Pediatrics, 44, 587-591.
[4] WHO expert consultation (2004) Appropriate body-mass index for Asian populations and its implications for policy and intervention strategies. Lancet, 363, 157-63.
[5] Clinical guidelines on the identification, evaluation and treatment of overweight and obesity in adults. The Evidence Report (1998), NIH Publication no. 98-4083 (8), Bethesda.
[6] Aronne, L.J., Brown, W.V. and Isoldi, K.K. (2007) Cardiovascular disease in obesity: A review of related risk factors and risk-reduction strategies. Journal of Clinical Lipidology, 1, 575-582. doi:10.1016/j.jacl.2007.10.005
[7] Tsigos, C., Hainer, V., Basdevant, A., et al. (2008) for the Obesity Management Task Force of the European Association for the Study of Obesity. Management of Obesity in Adults: European Clinical Practice Guidelines. Obesity Facts, 1, 106-116. doi:10.1159/000126822
[8] EASO Secretariat, Society Bulletins (2009) Statement by Members of the Task Force on Prevention and Public Health of the European Association for the Study of Obesity (EASO). Obesity Facts, 2, 54-55.
[9] Deurenberg, P. (1996) Limitations of the bioelectrical impedance method for the assessment of body fat in severe obesity. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 64, 4495-4452.
[10] Deurenberg, P., Westrate, J.A. and Seidell, J.C. (1991) Body mass index as a measure of body fatness: Age- and sex-specific prediction formulas. British Journal of Nutrition, 65, 105-114. doi:10.1079/BJN19910073
[11] Deurenberg, P., Yap, M., van Staveren, W.A. (1998) Body mass index and percent body fat. A meta analysis among different ethnic groups. International Journal of Obesity, 22, 1164-1171. doi:10.1038/sj.ijo.0800741
[12] Gallagher, D., Visser, M., Sepulveda, D., et al. (1996) How useful is body mass index for comparison of body fatness across age, sex and ethnic groups. American Journal of Epidemiology, 143, 228-239.
[13] Jackson, A.S., Pollock, M.L. and Ward, A. (1980) Generalized equations for predicting body density of women. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 12, 175-182. doi:10.1249/00005768-198023000-00009
[14] Jackson, A.S. (1984) Research design and analysis of data procedures for predicting body density. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 16, 616-620. doi:10.1249/00005768-198412000-00018
[15] Jackson, A.S., Stanforth, P.R. and Gagnon, J. (2002) The effect of sex, age and race on estimating percentage body fat from body mass index: the Heritage Family Study. International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders, 26, 789-96.
[16] Snehalatha, C., Viswanathan, V. and Ramachandran, A. (2003) Cutoff values for normal anthropometric variables in Asian Indian adults. Diabetes Care, 26, 1380-1384. doi:10.2337/diacare.26.5.1380
[17] Misra, A., Pandey, R.M., Sinha, S., et al. (2003) Receiver operating characteristics curve analysis of body fat & body mass index in dyslipidaemic Asian Indians. Indian Journal of Medical Research, 117, 170-179.
[18] Misra, A. (2003) Revisions of cutoffs of body mass index to define overweight and obesity are needed for the Asian-ethnic groups. International Journal of Obesity, 27, 1294-1296. doi:10.1038/sj.ijo.0802412
[19] Gallagher, D., Heymsfield, S.B., Heo, M., et al. (2000) Healthy percentage body fat ranges: an approach for developing guidelines based on body mass index. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 72, 694-701.
[20] Kawamoto, R., Ohtsuka, N., Ninomiya, D. and Nakamura, S. (2008) Association of obesity and visceral fat distribution with intima-media thickness of carotid arteries in middle-aged and older persons. Internal Medicine, 47, 143-149. doi:10.2169/internalmedicine.47.0478
[21] Lee, K., Lee, S., Kim, S.Y. et al. (2007) Percent body fat cutoff values for classifying overweight and obesity recommended by the International Obesity Task Force (IOTF) in Korean children. Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 16, 649-655.
[22] Fernandes, R.A., Rosa, C.S.C., Buonani, C., et al. (2007) The use of bioelectrical impedance to detect excess visceral and subcutaneous fat. Journal de Pediatrica, 83, 529-534. doi:10.2223/JPED.1722
[23] Lohman, T.G., Caballero, B., Himes, J.H. et al. (1999) Body composition assessment in American Indian children. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 69, 764S- 766S.
[24] Sung, R.Y.T., Lau, P., Yu, C.W. et al. (2001) Measurement of body fat using leg to leg bioimpedance. Archives of Disease in Childhood, 85, 263-267. doi:10.1136/adc.85.3.263
[25] Caballero, B., Himes, J.H., Lohman, T., et al. (2003) for the Pathways Study Research Group. Body composition and overweight prevalence in 1704 schoolchildren from 7 American Indian communities. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 78, 308-312.
[26] Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis in Body Composition Measurement (1994). National Institutes of Health Technology Assessment Conference Statement, 12-14 December, 1-35.
[27] Ko, G.T.C., Tang, J., Chan, J.C.N., et al. (2001). Lower BMI cut-off value to define obesity in Hong Kong Chinese: An analysis based on body fat assessment by bioelectrical impedance. British Journal of Nutrition, 85, 239-242. doi:10.1079/BJN2000251
[28] Gallagher, D. (2004) Overweight and obesity BMI cut- offs and their relation to metabolic disorders in Koreans/Asians. Obesity Research, 12, 440-441.
[29] Bhat, D.S., Yajnik, C.S., Sayyad, M.G., et al. (2005) Body fat measurement in Indian men: comparison of three methods based on a two-compartment model. International Journal of Obesity, 29, 842-848. doi:10.1038/sj.ijo.0802953
[30] Widhalm, K., Schoenegger, K., Huemer, C. and Auterith, A. (2001) Does the BMI reflect body fat in obese children and adolescents? A study using the TOBEC method. International Journal of Obesity, 25, 2790-285.
[31] Dehghan, M. and Merchant, A.T. (2008) Is bioelectrical impedance accurate for use in large epidemiological studies? Nutrition Journal, 7, 26-32. doi:10.1186/1475-2891-7-26
[32] Westphala, A.B., Latera, W., Hitzea, B., et al. (2008) Accuracy of Bioelectrical Impedance Consumer Devices for Measurement of Body Composition in Comparison to Whole Body Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Dual X-Ray Absorptiometry. Obesity Facts, 1, 319-324.
[33] Kyle, U.G., Bosaeus, I., De Lorenzo, A.D., et al. (2004) ESPEN. Bioelectrical impedance analysis-part II: utilization in clinical practice. Clinical Nutrition, 23, 1430- 1453. doi:10.1016/j.clnu.2004.09.012
[34] Mullera, M.J. and Hebebrandb, J. (2008) Should We Really Treat Every Obese Individual? Obesity Facts, 1, 287- 291.
[35] Bharati, D.R., Deshmukh, P.R. and Garg, B.S. (2008) Correlates of overweight & obesity among school going children of Wardha city, Central India. Indian Journal of Medical Research., 127, 539-543.
[36] Lejnieks, A., Kalvelis, A., Bahs, G., et al. (2008) Correlation of obesity indicators with other cardiovascular risk factors. Journal of Clinical Lipidology, 2, S42-S43. doi:10.1016/j.jacl.2008.08.096
[37] Tyrrell, V.J., Richards, G.E., Hofman, P., et al. (2001) Obesity in Auckland school children: a comparison of the body mass index and percentage body fat as the diagnostic criterion. International Journal of Obesity, 25, 164- 169. doi:10.1038/sj.ijo.0801532
[38] Sampei, M.A., Novo, N.F., Juliano, Y. and Sigulem, D.M. (2001) Comparison of the body mass index to other methods of body fat evaluation in ethnic Japanese and Caucasian adolescent girls. International Journal of Obesity, 25, 400-408. doi:10.1038/sj.ijo.0801558
[39] Rothman, K.J. (2008) BMI-related errors in the measurement of obesity. International Journal of Obesity, 32, S56-S59. doi:10.1038/ijo.2008.87
[40] Nikolaou, V., Tsiafoutis, I., Crinos, X., et al. (2008) Metabolic syndrome: Correlation of BMI and central type obesity. Journal of Clinical Lipidology, 2, S101. doi:10.1016/j.jacl.2008.08.221

Copyright © 2024 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.