Researchers call for individualized criteria for diagnosing obesity

Researchers call for individualized criteria for diagnosing obesity

With soaring obesity rates in the U.S., the American Medical Association has classified obesity as a disease. This major shift in healthcare policy brings much needed medical attention to obese patients. However, this definition of obesity focuses on a single criterion of Body Mass Index (BMI), which includes a large group of persons with high BMI who are metabolically healthy and not at high risk for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease or obesity-associated cancers.

In a review article published online in Endocrinology, Gerald V. Denis, PhD, professor of pharmacology and medicine and James A. Hamilton, PhD, professor of physiology and biophysics at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM), discusses the importance of eliminating healthy obese persons from unnecessary pharmaceutical treatments of the disease.

Previous studies have shown that the total volume of fat around the heart in obese persons is detrimental to some organ functions, but that total pericardial fat is not predicted by BMI. Thus, noninvasive imaging, such as (MRI), of pericardial fat could help to identify cardiovascular risks that are not clearly coupled with BMI. In addition, this could provide an opportunity to find blood biomarkers, which are the best indicators of relative metabolic status.

"These insights strongly suggest that BMI alone is insufficient to classify patients as obese and unhealthy; metabolism, , fat deposition and inflammatory status must be part of a comprehensive health evaluation," said Denis.

Certain non-obese individuals may also benefit from a noninvasive imaging approach, as well. Although not apparent physically, many lean people experience significant risks for these same diseases because of chronic low-level inflammation and fat deposition in or around . Where BMI alone would exclude this group from screenings, weighing more factors that contribute to pericardial fat could save lives.

"By using a more individualized approach, some obese persons can be relieved of the additional stigma of classification in a major disease category. In addition, unnecessary medical interventions and costs can be reduced," added Hamilton.

More information: media.npr.org/documents/2013/j… solution-obesity.pdf

Related Stories

Fat collections linked to decreased heart function

date Nov 13, 2009

Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) have shown that fat collection in different body locations, such as around the heart and the aorta and within the liver, are associated with certain decreased heart ...

Controversy surrounding 'fat letters' discussed

date Aug 19, 2013

(HealthDay)—Despite the potential stigma surrounding "fat letters," school body mass index (BMI) measurement programs may be beneficial, according to a perspective piece published online Aug. 19 in Pediatrics.

Recommended for you

Why poor nutrition in the womb leads to obesity later in life

date 20 hours ago

Babies receiving poor nutrition in the womb tend to be smaller at birth, which has been linked to the development of obesity and other health problems later in life. Researchers continue to discover other consequences related ...

Cost of lifestyle advice during pregnancy is worth it

date Mar 30, 2015

Research from the University of Adelaide shows that the additional cost of providing  one-on-one lifestyle advice to overweight and obese women during pregnancy is offset by improved outcomes at birth.

Team develops anti-obesity treatment in animal models

date Mar 26, 2015

Researchers from the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO) have shown that partial pharmacological inhibition of the PI3K enzyme in obese mice and monkeys reduces body weight and physiological manifestations ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.