Saturday, February 13, 2010

Body Fat Percentage May Be a Significant Problem

As some in the media have reported, obesity may be leveling off in most segments of the U.S. population. Although about a third of the U.S. population is obese, obesity appears to be holding constant. This might mean that some of the efforts to head off obesity are working. But still, there might be an unseen problem -- hidden fat that is not usually measured. And bariatric centers might want to be at the forefront in the effort to tackle the problem.

According to the Mayo Clinic, a person can have a normal BMI (body mass index), but still be obese. The condition is called normal weight obesity. BMI takes only a person's height and weight into consideration, since BMI is computed by dividing a person's weight in kilograms by the person's height in meters, then squaring the result. Therefore, BMI does not measure the percentage of fat on the body.

Although BMI is sometimes controversial, it is probably the most used measurement of body weight. BMI categories have been established to indicate when a person is of normal weight (a BMI between 18 and 25), when a person is overweight (a BMI between 25 and 30), and when a person is obese (a BMI over 30).

Indeed, at most bariatric surgical centers, BMI is one of the key factors used to determine if a person should be considered for bariatric surgery. For example, at many centers, one must have a BMI of 40 or more before bariatric surgery is recommended. With a BMI less than 40, a person might be considered for bariatric surgery if the BMI is greater than 35, and the prospective patient suffers from comorbidities such as diabetes or high blood pressure.

However, the prospect of normal weight obesity may necessitate the inclusion of fat percentage measurements when assessing body weight. And this is where the expertise of bariatric centers could come into play. While there are home methods for calculating body fat percentage, at this time, the most accurate method is probably done in a facility equipped to make accurate body fat percentage measurements.

The relatively new finding by the Mayo Clinic that a person of normal weight could be obese identifies a problem that bariatric centers can equip themselves to handle. Centers should become knowledgeable about the current recommended fat percentages. The centers should also get involved in the ongoing research to nail down more accurate fat percentage classifications. At any rate, strategically inclined bariatric centers should prepare to play an important role in helping potential clients manage body fat percentage, as well as BMI.

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