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Body Mass Index Guidelines: Corresponding %Fat Standards


D. Gallagher*, S.B. Heymsfield*, M. Heo*, S. Jebb**, P. Murgatroyd**, Y. Sakamoto***. D. Gallagher*, S.B. Heymsfield*, M. Heo*, S. Jebb**, P. Murgatroyd**, Y. Sakamoto***.

*Obesity Research Center, St. Luke's/Roosevelt Hospital,
Columbia University, NY, NY 10025.**Cambridge University, UK, ***Kashiwa Hospital, Jikei University, Japan

Presented at the 9th European Congress on Obesity June 1999
Research reprinted by permission. ©1999 by S.B. Heymsfield

Practical Implications:
• See table for proposed healthy body fat ranges.
• This approach and initial findings provide the groundwork for establishing international standards for healthy body fat ranges.

Abstract
Objective: International agencies have now adopted BMI standards for underweight (i.e.,<18.5), overweight (25), and obesity (30). There are no accepted %fat levels corresponding to these ranges despite increasing interest in quantifying body fat.
Design: Body fat was measured in US, UK, and Japan using state-of-the art methods (4-compartment [C] method [measured 3H2O dilution vol; body density; bone mineral] in 2 countries and DXA in all 3) and %fat prediction equations were developed based on BMI and other independent variables. Subjects were multiethnic healthy adults (n for US, UK, and Japan, 924, 205, and 924) with BMI35 ranging in age from 18-94 years.
Results: Strong correlations existed between 4-C and DXA %fat for US and UK centers (R2=0.85-0.94, p's<0.001). DXA %fat prediction models at all 3 centers were similar and included BMI and age as independent variables (R2=0.50-0.81, p's <0.001). There were small between-center differences in predicted %fat (max 3%) that varied with age and gender. The mean predicted %fat for 3 countries is shown in the table. This approach and initial findings provide the groundwork for establishing international standards for healthy body fat ranges.

Mean Predicted %Fat for 3 Countries
Females
Age
BMI
20-39
40-59
60-79
18.5
20.5
21.3
22.1
25.0
35.0
35.8
36.6
30.0
41.9
42.7
43.5
Males
Age
BMI
20-39
40-59
60-79
18.5
8.5
10.2
11.9
25.0
21.2
22.9
24.5
30.0
27.2
28.9
30.5