Body Mass Index, or BMI, is a familiar term to many. It's a formula that compares your weight to height. There are numerous online calculators, including one on this site, that allow you to plug in your weight and height values and calculate a BMI number for you.
BMI has a major flaw. It doesn't tell you anything about where you’re carrying your weight. Numerous studies have found that being apple shaped or carrying excess belly fat is riskier than having a heavy bottom or being pear shaped.
To address this limitation, City College of New York researchers developed a new formula they call A Body Shape Index or ABSI. Index values were calculated on a US sample of over 14,000 non-pregnant adults. The numbers were then compared to the mortality rates for the same group. They found that high death rates were correlated with both low and high BMI, but ABSI predicted premature death from all causes and regardless of other factors like age, sex, ethnicity and lifestyle choices.
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.