'A Body Shape Index' better predictor of mortality, study shows

Those with "pear-shaped" bodies may be at a risk of death.
Posted By Brooks Hays  |  Feb. 24, 2014 at 3:24 PM
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NEW YORK, Feb. 24 (UPI) -- New study shows that "body shape index" -- as opposed to "body mass index" (BMI) -- is a more accurate predictor of mortality.

Dr. Nir Krakauer, assistant professor of civil engineering in City College of New York's School of Engineering, and his father, Dr. Jesse Krakauer, MD, developed A Body Shape Index (ABSI) in 2012. Their goal was to come up with a measure of abnormal obesity that would correspond more closely with health risks, and ultimately mortality.

“One criticism leveled at BMI is that it doesn’t distinguish muscle and fat mass, so that it doesn’t tell you if you have too much fat,” said Dr. Nir Krakauer, speaking about his new approach to measuring obesity in 2012.

Unlike BMI, ABSI incorporates waist circumference into its calculations, which helps account for the increased health hazards of carrying excess wait in the lower abdomen.

Now a new study confirms that the father-son duo, and their measurement, did what they set out to do. Published in the journal PLOS ONE, the new analysis confirms ABSI as a better predictor of mortality.

Researchers studied health data collected from over 7,000 British adults as part of two surveys carried out in the 1980s and 1990s. They compared the survey results with death and cancer diagnosis records.

In comparing the two data sets, researchers looked for links between mortality rates and various health indicators -- including ABSI, BMI, waist circumference, waist-hip ratio and waist-height ratio. They found ABSI most strongly corresponded with incidents of mortality. Patients who measured in the top 20 percent of ABSI were 61 percent more likely to have passed away than those in the bottom 20 percent.

Because researchers had two surveys to analyze -- one from the '80s, one from the '90s -- they were also able to show that a change in ABSI corresponded with a change in the likelihood of mortality.

For those interested in knowing what their body shape says about their life expectancy, an ABSI calculator is available on CCNY's website.

[City College of New York] [PLOS ONE]

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