Body Shape Index

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A body shape index (ABSI) is a metric for assessing the health implications of a given human body height, mass and waist circumference (WC). The inclusion of WC is believed to make the BSI a better indicator of risk of mortality from excess weight than the standard body mass index.[1][2] ABSI correlates only slightly with height, weight and BMI, indicating that it is independent of other anthropometric variables in predicting mortality.

A criticism of BMI is that it does not distinguish between muscle and fat mass and so may be elevated in people with increased BMI due to muscle development rather than fat accumulation from overeating.[3] A higher muscle mass may actually reduce the risk of premature death.[4] A high ABSI appears to correspond to a higher proportion of central obesity, or abdominal fat.

In a sample of Americans in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, death rates in some subjects were high for both high and low BMI and WC, a familiar conundrum associated with BMI.[5] In contrast, death rates increased  proportionally with increased values of ABSI. The linear relationship was unaffected by adjustments for other risk factors including smoking, diabetes, elevated blood pressure and serum cholesterol.

The equation for the ABSI is based on statistical shape analysis and is derived from an allometric regression (with waist and height in meters and weight in kg):[6]

Studies have associated ABSI with total mortality and cardiovascular risk, indicating that it is useful in assessing cardio-metabolic risks.[7]


  1. ^ "Doctors expose BMI shortcomings". London Evening Standard. Evening Standard Limited. 2006-01-18. Retrieved 2013-09-12.
  2. ^ "New study supports body shape index as predictor of mortality". EurekAlert!. Retrieved 2019-06-25.
  3. ^ Nevill, Alan M.; Stewart, Arthur D.; Olds, Tim; Holder, Roger (2006). "Relationship between adiposity and body size reveals limitations of BMI". American Journal of Physical Anthropology. 129 (1): 151–156. doi:10.1002/ajpa.20262. hdl:2436/8003. ISSN 0002-9483. PMID 16270304.
  4. ^ Bigaard, Janne; Frederiksen, Kirsten; Tjønneland, Anne; Thomsen, Birthe Lykke; Overvad, Kim; Heitmann, Berit Lillienthal; Sørensen, Thorkild I.A. (July 2004). "Body Fat and Fat-Free Mass and All-Cause Mortality". Obesity Research. 12 (7): 1042–1049. doi:10.1038/oby.2004.131. PMID 15292467.
  5. ^ Ahima, R. S.; Lazar, M. A. (2013-08-23). "The Health Risk of Obesity--Better Metrics Imperative". Science. 341 (6148): 856–858. doi:10.1126/science.1241244. ISSN 0036-8075. PMID 23970691.
  6. ^ Krakauer, Nir Y.; Krakauer, Jesse C. (2012-07-18). Li, Shengxu (ed.). "A New Body Shape Index Predicts Mortality Hazard Independently of Body Mass Index". PLoS ONE. 7 (7): e39504. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0039504. ISSN 1932-6203. PMC 3399847. PMID 22815707.
  7. ^ Bertoli, Simona; Leone, Alessandro; Krakauer, Nir Y.; Bedogni, Giorgio; Vanzulli, Angelo; Redaelli, Valentino Ippocrates; De Amicis, Ramona; Vignati, Laila; Krakauer, Jesse C. (2017-09-25). Wang, Guoying (ed.). "Association of Body Shape Index (ABSI) with cardio-metabolic risk factors: A cross-sectional study of 6081 Caucasian adults". PLOS ONE. 12 (9): e0185013. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0185013. ISSN 1932-6203. PMC 5612697. PMID 28945809.