Calculate Your ABSI - A Better Predictor of Mortality than BMI
Since the early 1990s, Body Mass Index, or BMI, has become an almost universally used indicator of obesity with obesity being a leading cause of death worldwide. Recently a new measure of obesity, ABSI, has shown to be a better predictor of mortality.
BMI doesn't tell you anything about where you're carrying your weight. Numerous studies have found that having an apple shaped body or carrying excess belly fat is riskier than having a pear shaped body or heavy bottom.
To address the limitations of BMI, City College of New York researchers developed a new formula they call A Body Shape Index or ABSI. It was developed as a way to quantify the risk associated with abdominal obesity where obesity is indicated by a wide waist circumference (WC) relative to a person's height and BMI.
Medical exam and mortality data was analysed on a sample of more than 14,000 adults who participated in the United States (USA) National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 1999–2004. They found that an above average ABSI was associated with substantially higher risk of death. Additionally, excess mortality hazard associated with high ABSI was greater than that associated with above-average BMI or waist circumference.
The study concludes that even though you may have a normal BMI, you may be at a greater risk of dying sooner if you carry excessive weight in your midsection relative to your height and weight.
How to Measure Waist Circumference
It's important to take an accurate measurement of your waist circumference to produce meaningful calculation results. Follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines to correctly measure your waist. Use a flexible measuring tape made of non-stretchable material.
- Stand and place a tape measure around your middle, just above your hipbones.
- Make sure tape is horizontal around the waist.
- Keep the tape snug around the waist, but not compressing the skin.
- Measure your waist just after you breathe out.
See here for additional instructions on measuring waist circumference.
Krakauer NY, Krakauer JC (2012) A new body shape index predicts mortality hazard independently of body mass index. PLoS One 7: e39504. View Article
Krakauer NY, Krakauer JC (2014) Dynamic association of mortality hazard with body shape. PLoS One 9: e88793. View Article
Krakauer NY, Krakauer JC (2014) Expansion of Waist Circumference in Medical Literature: Potential Clinical Application of a Body Shape Index. View Article