High body fat can be dangerous, even with normal BMI, new study says

(A new study says that the numbers on a scale aren’t a good way to determine a person’s health.)
By Audrey Brashich

A new study is taking aim at one of the most commonly used standards for assessing health.

BMI (body mass index), which measures a person’s height in relation to weight, fails to capture a true picture of health, according to a new study released the by Annals of Internal Medicine, and is incomplete as a method of determining risk factors for heart disease, diabetes and other chronic conditions.

The study, which focused on men and women age 40 and older, found that a person’s mortality risk is increased by a higher body-fat percentage — independent of BMI. In other words, the numbers on a scale are not an adequate method for determining a person’s health because they don’t take into account whole-body composition (muscle, bone and fat).

“This is a wake-up call,” says Sandra Adamson Fryhofer, past president of the American College of Physicians and an internist in Atlanta, explaining that it shows person with a high body-fat percentage can be at risk even “if what you weigh is fine.”

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