Signup for our Newsletter Expand Browser
Calorie Count Blog
 « A 7-Day Workout Plan Do Green Labels Mean Healthier Food? »

# Is ABSI the New Body Mass Index?

By +Carolyn Richardson on Aug 18, 2012 10:00 AM in Dieting & You

Numbers are a significant part of trying to lose weight. Be it pounds, inches, calories, or minutes, we’re all counting our way to a healthier lifestyle.  While many of us have a goal weight, others are focused on a goal BMI. That is to say, we want to be healthy according to the standard measurement that screens for obesity, called Body Mass Index (BMI). A normal BMI range is between 18.5 and 24.9. A comparison of height and weight, BMI is meant to determine a person’s health risks for chronic disease such as heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes. Then there’s waist circumference. The National Institutes of Health suggests a waist circumference higher than 35 inches for women and 40 for men is associated with a higher risk of chronic disease. But neither of these directly measures a person’s total body fat, or accounts for an adult’s age or body composition, leaving many, including pregnant women, athletes, body builders, and the elderly, categorized incorrectly. Enter A Body Shape Index (ABSI), a newly proposed measurement that combines BMI and waist circumference.

What is ABSI?

The new obesity measurement tool was developed by researchers at The City College of New York. Using data from over 14,000 non-pregnant adults, they found mortality rates were best predicted by ABSI, while BMI was less accurate. To get your ABSI, you’ll need both your BMI and waist circumference (WC) equation is:

To determine if your health risk is above average, go to the ABSI calculator here. The results compare the relative risk of your BMI along with the risk calculated from the ABSI measurement. It's a good way to see how an elevated waist circumference is affecting your health.

Waist-to-Height Ratio vs. Waist-to-Hip Ratio

Aside from waist circumference, there are two other measures of abdominal obesity, one of which is waist-to-height ratio. A new study in Obesity Reviews says waist-to-height ratio is a better indicator of overall health than BMI and waist circumference alone. Waist-to-height ratio is measured by dividing your waist circumference in inches by your height in inches. A 5’9” women with a waist of 37 inches has a waist-to-height ratio of .53. An “elevated” waist-to-height ratio is greater than 0.5. If you're 5'4, a healthy waist-to-height ratio is a 31-inch waist. The other measurement of abdominal obesity is waist-to-hip ratio, by dividing your waist by your hip circumference in inches. Anything above 0.8 for women and 1.0 for men signals an elevated health risk for developing heart disease. Because neither of these measurements factor in the weight of the individual, they are less useful than ABSI.

The Bottom Line

Because body fat is at the heart of determining the health risks of obesity, indirect measurements like BMI, waist-to-height ratio, and waist-to-hip ratio can only tell half the story. While ABSI helps create a more complete picture of fat distribution and how it may contribute to overall health risks, even it isn't a perfect determinant of who will develop heart disease, diabetes, or hypertension. So try not to put too much stock in meeting a certain number. Because weight loss as small as 5% in obese individuals can create positive health outcomes, the ultimate goal is to take baby steps toward a healthier you. After all, like life, maintaining a healthy weight is a journey, not a destination.

Aside from weight, what measurement tool do you think is more important? ABSI, BMI, Waist Circumference, Waist-to-Hip Ratio, or Waist-to-Height Ratio

## Help for Weight Loss - Calorie Calculator for...

Oh goodness, not trying to sound mean, but this is just something else to drive us all crazy.

OK, not everyone has access to skinfold calipers and I don't know anyone who can take those measurements on themself (especially not subscapular) but when I was in grad school, that was the standard method for determining body fat.

BMI can only be relevant to social averages (statistical averages) and won't necessarily be relevant to individuals because it has no provision for the assessment of bodyfat percentage. ABSI attempts to create that relationship by including a WC (waist circumference) data-point, but waist circumference assumes a statistically average assumption about fat distribution - therefore not necessarily relevant to individuals.

I suspect that the gold standard will remain an accurate measure of body-fat percentage, because that is the datum we're actually interested in. These roundabout methods for determining health are really trying to estimate body fat percentage anyway - so why not simply go for the accurate measure and get the information you really wanted to begin with?

Okay, so I've calculated my ABSI (0.0707).  What does it mean?  Is there a scale or some info as to where I sit health-wise?

Mine came out strangely, too. Is a 0.0623 possible? How does this work?

It really does seem as if this is a strange way to get to determining what is or isn't healthy. I for one have a very large frame and am 6'4" so there is no way this will make sense to me since it is compared to an average. Many scales are available today that measure your weight and body fat % and then give you hard factual numbers to work against.

Kenin

www. theconstantrambler.com

I can't even find anythting via Google.  Methinks if Google doesn't show results, then this is a very new, or very obscure methodology.

I just read an article on this in Medscape. An online medical journal I get. I think it is fairly new science. I think it is good that it takes in your waist circumference, because it really matters health wise what shape you are, pear or apple. I have a larger waist because I am a true apple. My  ABSI came out 0.8. Not great, but not really bad. From what I am reading anything below 1 means less risk. So the readings above mean you are at way lower risk than average, which would make sense if you are talking about the average population. I would think that people that are concerned about their diet and health like members of cc would be healthier than the average population.

This looks like a lot of FUN!!!  Ugh...

I feel like this is kind of a distraction from what we should all be doing, which is eating less and working out CONSISTENTLY!  I think I might do this or figure out my BMI just out of curiosity, but for no other reason.

Look in the mirror.  Now, focus on eating less and working out the right way.  Be as consistent as you can muster.  In about 2 to 3 months, look in the mirror again. I bet you'll be happy with the results!

Also, since I've been adding muscle with my workouts, I stay off the scale.  My body is looking better, but my actual weight is barely nudging down.  No sense making myself depressed over something that really doesn't matter.

Jim

I think the study referenced in this article addresses the issues of "your mileage may vary" in that even non-obese people can die from diseases normally associated with obesity. And I agree, we don't need yet another indicator to stress over, just be or get active, eat mindfully and live stress-free.

A fascinating new methodology. While it certainly won't help you lose weight, it's definitely a far more accurate system to measure against, especially when compared to the BMI, which is notoriously poor at accurate numbers for different body types and those with considerable muscle. In regards to comments, I think we forget that while it's nice to know this sort of thing, it's more for medical staff and researchers doing evaluations than for the layman to be using. Diet and exercise and looking in the mirror will always be the best way to tell how you're doing. For Those who couldn't understand their numbers- with a number that small you were probably looking at the raw data score, the number you'll find useful is labeled "relative risk from ABSI". The numbers are based on a percentage system, anything below 1 to be considered healthy, in that people with a score lower than 1 have a lower death rate.

Original Post by: ellaay

Oh goodness, not trying to sound mean, but this is just something else to drive us all crazy.

Omg! You read my mind, as this is exactly what I said when I saw the title of this article.

I was always annoyed that the waist-to-hip ratio method doesn't take into account that it's physically impossible for some people to reach the ideal ratio, due to bone structure. I'm 5'9 and I only weigh 120, and my WHR is barely under .8. When I weighed 135, I was toeing the line. My torso isn't particularly wide but I'm extremely short waisted (hips almost touch the bottom of my rib cage), and my hips are very straight and narrow.

System sounds interesting but I come back to the same problem - having had 5 spinal surgeries (so far) - what do I input for my height in any of these formulas?  My current height, 5' 1/2 ",  or my prior height of 5'3" when my height was already "shortened" by a double curvature of my spine?  I know my BMI# looks way out of whack, but I still have the skin and muscles meant for my unknown potential height.  My curvature problems already existed in adolescence and thus I have no way to know how tall I "should have" grown. . . Other than struggling to tone my mid-section with its redundant, seeming plumpness, I am delighted to say that surgeries 4 & 5 did the job and I am walking relatively pain free and enjoying normal activities. . . but I am curious as to how to use any of these "guidelines or formulas" in my circumstances.  Any suggestions?

OK I like this methodology as it is more comprehensive than just BMI. I will need to read the notes to work out what the output means.

OK....I did the calculator linked to this page...I don't understand anything! Really I stick with the BMI, I'm not pregnant, elderly or a bodybuilder...

I think there is great confusion on where one would actually measure their waist.  I have heard to measure at the narrowest part of the trunk and at the belly button level where there is at least a 4 inch variation.  Does anyone know the answer to this?

I think this is silly as the calculators give completely different results depending on whether you use metric or not. I follow fat % and weight mostly but would still like a healthy bmi.

My bmi currently says I'm obese while my fat percentage disagrees and so many people have the reverse.. in a healthy weight bmi with an unhealthy amount of fat.

I'm sure when they have worked out the kinks it'll be great but until then I'll stick to the gym scales.

I don't need another number to tell me I need to loose weight - Thanks though.

This doesn't take into account rib cage size. My rib cage is 40 inches, and I can see my ribs, my bust is 46. My body fat analysis says 19% body fat (hydrostatic weighing) and I weigh 180 pounds. My waist is 37. I come up as being 30 BMI and 0.0749 or something like that on this.

I do not want to be mean, but we do not realy need 1000 new formulas and ways of calculating how fat we are .... we know that already. The problem is taking action and trying to be healthier.

Is this site for women only???I see very few men respond and most articles seem to be towards women by women.....

I found an ABSI Calculator at http:www.absicalculator.co.uk . its not as comprehensive as others I've seen, but gives you an ABSI number all the same

I found an ABSI Calculator at www.absicalculator.co.uk . its not as comprehensive as others I've seen, but gives you an ABSI number all the same

Try this ABSI calculator at: http://www.absi-calculator.com It is very easy to use.