not reliable for estimating obesity and health risks after age 60

Presse Santé

People over 60 with a body mass index (BMI) between 25 and 35, i.e. overweight or obese according to this popular mathematical formula, may take less risk to their health than individuals. The Federal University of Minas Gerais (Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais) supports the current trend that no longer considers BMI as the only reliable method for identifying the effect of weight on health, in some cases it can even be contradictory.

Abdominal fat greater than BMI

A frequent objection to BMI is the difficulty of this index to integrate or identify the fat, which plays a harmful role in increasing the risk of coronary heart disease. It can create false positives. In other words, a person can have significant belly fat but have weak muscles in the legs or arms (hence with reduced body weight). This person may be within the norm in terms of their BMI (from 20 to 25) despite the great risk to their heart health.

The researchers analyzed the medical information of 1,606 residents over the age of 60 from the city of Bambu, a community in the southeastern state of Minas Gerais, Brazil. They observed a surprising result, residents of this city with a BMI between 25 and 35 have a lower risk of death than those with a BMI below 25.

It is not that being overweight is advisable for the elderly, but rather that in the group of people with a BMI of less than 25 patients with serious health problems such as weak muscles or osteoporosis. . We know that with age the musculature decreases in volume and therefore loses weight, the bones also see their weight decrease. You should know that muscle weighs more than fat (for the same volume), so excessive muscle loss can significantly reduce weight and therefore BMI, creating a false positive. Important point too, in adults fat naturally tends to be more in the belly area.

An indicator that is not always reliable with strong limits

Other statistical abnormalities come into play in adults with the use of BMI, such as compression of the vertebrae. At this age it is not uncommon to see some people lose up to 5 cm in height, a person can therefore have the appropriate weight when the BMI exceeds 25 (if the height decreases, the BMI increases in production). Other studies, especially the United States, have raised objections in recent years on the use of BMI especially among people aged 18 to 65. In these studies, it is also muscle mass that comes up as an objection first, precisely because women do not have a smaller muscle mass and there are also differences between ethnic groups that show results.

An interesting point raised by many studies is that the practice of sports, regardless of age, reduces mortality. As exercise increases muscle mass, we can find individuals with a BMI over 25 but in perfect physical shape, in the medical sense of the word (a very low statistical risk of dying from a heart attack, for example.).

That said, BMI must continue to be used, especially to make comparisons between regions or countries on obesity, this is the case for epidemiological studies. BMI is also often recommended for people aged 18 to 65. However, we must be aware of these limits, especially among athletes.

Other ways of summer health insurance

To conclude, using BMI after 60 to diagnose a person’s health status is no longer appropriate. It is necessary to favor other methods such as waist circumference measurement, the latter should be less than 88 cm in women and 103 cm in men. It is also possible to use the waist circumference formula. By dividing your waist circumference in cm by your hip circumference in cm, a result of less than 0.85 for women or less than 0.90 for men indicates an appropriate weight.

* blokus strives to spread health knowledge in a language accessible to all. IN NO EVENT, THE INFORMATION GIVEN CANNOT REPLACE THE OPINION OF A HEALTH PROFESSIONAL.
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