You’ve probably heard of the Body Mass Index (BMI) before—you know, the number calculated from your weight and height that puts you either in the healthy weight, overweight, or obese category. It turns out that researchers have questioned the validity of the BMI as an effective tool because it doesn’t take into consideration different body types and thus, doesn’t accurately reflect body fat.
In 2009 a medical doctor, Jesse Krakauer, MD and his engineer son, Nir Krakauer, PhD, developed a new measure that incorporates abdominal obesity—one of the main risk factors for many chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, liver disease, and certain forms of cancer. They call it A Body Shape Index (ABSI). It takes into consideration height and weight, but also waist circumference, an indicator of abdominal fat.
In a recent study published in the Public Library of Sciences ONE journal, ABSI was found to be more effective than the currently used BMI as a strong indicator of risk of death. People with the highest ABSI were at a 61 percent higher rate of death than the people with the lowest ABSI. You can calculate your ABSI here. We will likely hear more about A Body Shape Index as it begins to replace the Body Mass Index as a more accurate measure of disease risk.