The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared obesity a “global epidemic”.
1. How is obesity defined?
The condition of obesity, which occurs when the percentage of body fat is so high that it threatens health, is associated with a number of chronic diseases and a shortened lifespan.
However, the true extent of obesity may be even more serious than you think.
Obesity is associated with an increased risk of diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, stroke, cancer, dyslipidemia, liver and gallbladder disease, sleep apnea and breathing problems, osteoarthritis, irregular menstruation, and infertility.
Midlife adiposity is strongly correlated with a reduced likelihood of healthy long-term survival.
Obesity has become a priority in national, state, and local public health efforts and in the care of individual patients.
Consequently, the clinical detection of obese individuals has reached critical importance.
2. How is body fat determined?
As the importance of obesity detection increases, it is useful to reevaluate how body fat is determined.
For adults, body mass index (BMI) is commonly used. Its popularity stems in part from its convenience, safety and low cost, and its use is widespread, despite its inability to distinguish lean mass from fat mass.
For adults, overweight and obesity ranges are determined by using weight and height to calculate a number called 'body mass index' (BMI). However, BMI is actually an indirect surrogate measurement that is considered inaccurate.
This leads to misclassifications and causes many people to believe they are not at risk for obesity-related diseases, putting them at risk without them knowing.
3. The role of BMI in obesity research
Current research suggests that obesity can be defined as body fat percentage exceeding 23-25% in men and 30-35% in women.
However, the application of the WHO BMI cut-off values in a clinical setting, especially in a population such as the Italian one, leads to misclassification and means that a significant number of individuals, both men and women, are not considered obese based solely on on body mass index.
The discrepancy is particularly evident in the classification of obese women.
For example, in the age group between 30 and 40 years, the percentage of obese women calculated using BMI is 30%, but this percentage increases up to 82% when referring to body fat percentage.
These results coincide perfectly with the data that we have also been able to record during more than 25 years of body composition analysis and with a study conducted by Prof. Braverman, presented at the congress of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists in Boston.
In essence, the true prevalence of obesity is approximately three times higher than estimated using BMI, which means that between 80% and 90% of the world's population is affected by obesity.
4. The hard truth about global obesity
It is particularly important to note that people with a low amount of muscle mass and excess fat mass, often referred to as “fake thin,” can easily be classified as non-obese when relying only on BMI, despite actually being obese from the point of view. in terms of body fat percentage.
It is crucial to consider this data when addressing obesity and public health.
BMI may underestimate your true health risk, so it is critical to take a more accurate and comprehensive approach to body composition assessment.
5. Conclusion: what can we do for a healthy life?
To help people recognize the real risks of obesity and promote a healthier lifestyle, we provide a free online nutrition test that can help you better understand your nutritional needs and receive a personalized meal plan.
Furthermore, we have created a dedicated weight loss guide that you can download for free after taking our test.
Knowledge is the first step in fighting obesity. Let's take care of our health and that of the people we care about. Access our online nutrition test and start your journey to a healthier life. Don't wait, act now!
- Review: World J Gastroenterol. 2016 Jan 14;22(2):681-703.doi: 10.3748/wjg.v22.i2.681.