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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Body Mass Index, Bioelectrical Impedance and Body Composition

Author
item Lukaski, Henry

Submitted to: Nutrition
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: December 22, 2000
Publication Date: January 1, 2001
Citation: Lukaski, H.C. 2001. Body mass index, bioelectrical impedance and body composition. Nutrition. 17(1):55-56.

Technical Abstract: Assessment of the risk of future development of chronic disease is hampered by the lack of a sensitive measure of human body composition. To date, every national and international health survey has utilized the body mass index (BMI) as a surrogate of body fatness or adiposity in the prediction of risk of chronic disease. This variable has some limitations including its inability to discriminate fatness from muscularity. Numerous controlled clinical studies have shown that adults with a BMI exceeding the threshold for "obesity" but with low skinfold thicknesses have the same risk of developing chronic disease (e.g., cardiovascular disease or diabetes) as adults with much lower BMI values. However, adults with high BMI values and increased sum of skinfold thicknesses (e.g., obese) have the greatest risk of cardiovascular disease. To improve the prediction of future risk of chronic disease, a more sensitive measure of body composition than BMI is needed. The proposed method is bioelectrical impedance analysis. This method was shown to be more sensitive and specific in identifying adults who were obese than BMI. The value of using the bioelectrical impedance method was reiterated recently when the National Institutes of Health and the National Center for Health Statistics developed and validated a model that uses impedance values to predict body composition of individuals who participated the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. This model was used to develop the first national body composition norms for use in future national nutrition and health surveys in the United States.

Last Modified: 10/24/2014
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