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BMI, Waist circumference and Asians - Why some people need lower BMI


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Just thought I would add some information to the site so that less people will get irritated about people trying to achieve lower BMI values. Smile Ethnicity and body fat  play a big part in the matter.

Definition Asian ethnicity from wiki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asian_ethnicity

Information from:

http://www.healthkicker.com/itemthemed.aspx?u ser=healthkicker&uid=702505125

"Studies have shown that at a given BMI, those of Chinese or Asian ethnicity are at greater risk for cardiovascular disease.This is due to ethnic differences in the body composition between Asians and Europeans.Even at the same BMI, Asians are more likely to have more visceral adipose tissue (fat in the stomach area). More tummy fat, or a high waist circumference is associated with higher risk for Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and many other diseases. "

The study give a BMI of 22.9 to 18.5 as normal for the asian population

Also from http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/29/5 /1123.full

"In the present study, we proposed an optimal cutoff point of waist circumference for the diagnosis of metabolic syndrome in the Japanese population: 85 cm in men and 78 cm in women, yielding the maximal sensitivity plus specificity, or 83 cm in men and 73 cm in women, yielding at least 80% sensitivity for predicting the presence of multiple risk factors."

which translates to 32.68 to 33.46 inches for men & 28.74 to 30.71 inches for women. This study is for the Japanese population but would probably be more accurate for Asians vs European cut offs.

Waist circumference around the belly button seems to be a better indicator of the amount of fat in the body vs BMI which just accounts for mass.

Hope that this has been useful in understanding why different people especially if they are of mixed ethnicity with Asian bood or are Asian feel more comfortable at lower BMI.

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There are a range of healthy BMIs for good reason...  20 - 25 is the healthy norm for the vast majority of the human population.  However, numbers only tell part of the story.  They are an indicator not 'proof' of someone's state of health.   Other factors have to be considered.

Once someone's BMI gets into the 18.5-20 range they get into a 'grey area'....  If they've always been very slim, eat plenty of food, are active, healthy and functioning normally in every respect then they are fine. 

HOWEVER..... if someone has typically never been in the 18.5-20 zone, can only achieve that BMI through severe calorie-restriction or overexercising, is experiencing health problems either physical or mental (such as loss of periods, anaemia, depression, anxiety) then they are probably too thin and their goal weight too low.

The latter applies, regardless of ethnicity.  Just because someone is Asian (and may feel under pressure to be the same size as those around them)  it doesn't mean they should aim for a very low BMI if it proves to be detrimental to their health.  I'm sure you'd agree with that.

Hi gi jane, of course i agree with you that if a person is suffering from loss of periods, anaemia, depression, anxiety they should reconsider their target goal weight.

I also agree that body fat among other things are a better indicator of health than BMI, and that BMI is a general suggestion and can be flawed. Smile

However, I believe you have missed my point.

For the global population - Asians being over 50 % of the population http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_populatio n - The "healthy" BMI suggested of 18.5 to 24.9 provides a grey area - to the Asian population- from 22.9 to 24.9.

The point being many Asians believe they are healthy at this grey range of 22.9 to 24.9 , which is not the case according to the study provided. Hence the call to the WHO for a change in BMI guidelines for this population.

According to the suggested guidelines 22.9 is the cutoff point for being overweight and being medically compromised. Just as 24.9 is the cut off point for the European population. To suggest that an individual is healthy above this cutoff point is inaccurate. To suggest that an individual should be satisfied above the cutoff point is also not a positive suggestion.

I can only guess that for some of the European population, to achieve a BMI of 18.5 may require overexercising and undereating or may not as you said if the individual has always been thin. But for Asians the recommended range provided of 18.5 to 22.9 is smaller and the lower half of that range of 20.7 to 18.5 must be deemed reasonable by the authors of the study so should not be considered a grey area to the Asian population.

My overall point being that some Asians are aware of this and are trying to follow their ethnicity specific guidelines as a BMI of 25, 24 and 23 are all overweight for them and are proved to be detrimental to their health.They should not be condemmed for this.Those who are not aware should be aware not from a perspective of size but a perspective of health.

I am just explaining that if they choose to do this they are not being unreasonable nor are they endangering their health by choosing to aim for the low to mid range of a healthy BMI rather than the upper range.

Oh my god, I am overweight. Holy mofo.

I'm Asian.. have a BMI of 23 according to CC and a BMI of 22.7 according to another site. Either way I am .2 from being overweight, or I am indeed overweight. That's a real strike in the head for me.

Miss determined, don't freak out. I don't believe this to be applicable to all asians. What is your frame size? I read your profile, and you said you are of a larger frame. I have asian friends who have frames that are larger than my own i.e. when you compare our wrists you can see that their bones are denser, and as such it is natural for them to have higher BMIs. Just like how you get some "oddly" tall asians. There are exceptions to every rule. Not all asians have teeny weeny structures, even though the majority does for the most part, when compared to european nations.

Just a general note on BMI...

BMI was developed by a Belgian man who was an astronomer, mathematician, statistician, and sociologist.  He wasn't a doctor.

Also BMI was originally developed with the average Belgian in mind for 1830-1850.

Though Quetelets original formula for BMI has been tweaked a little... Genetic factors, country of origin, humans are getting larger (think bones, not just fat)....all sort of make the one size fits all concept of BMI BS.

Yes it is a healthy guidline for your average person.  But people who are very muscular can fall into obese etc, or in the OPs case may need a lower BMI...  It is certainly not a foolproof system.

Original Post by gi-jane:

 

Once someone's BMI gets into the 18.5-20 range they get into a 'grey area'....  If they've always been very slim, eat plenty of food, are active, healthy and functioning normally in every respect then they are fine. 

HOWEVER..... if someone has typically never been in the 18.5-20 zone, can only achieve that BMI through severe calorie-restriction or overexercising, is experiencing health problems either physical or mental (such as loss of periods, anaemia, depression, anxiety) then they are probably too thin and their goal weight too low.be detrimental to their health.  I'm sure you'd agree with that.

I absolutely agree with this. I, for example, Never have been under 20 in my life. I know the lowest I will be able to get while retaining my health will be 21.

<---Overweight asian! :pokes self:

Chinese, 6'0, 175(bmi 23.9), 39-33-40 ^-^...Although the lowest I remember being without killing myself was 21.7 bmi or so, but that's when I was 16 and just had a growth spurt. I guess I'd also count as big boned with 6.75 inch wrist.

In truth, I'm not happy with the fact that most of my fat is stored on my torso, and I'd really like to decrease that. But if I'm otherwise healthy and can complete my workouts(love working out), then I'd rather not calorie scrutinize myself back down to bmi 21 ish.

is anyone else sick to death of the constant blah blah blah about bmi and the catalog of people to whom it doesn't apply? 90% of the time it's just people trying to rationalize the fact that they're (a) too skinny or (b) too fat.

if you are a human being with all appendages intact, it probably applies to you. get over it.

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