Is body mass index a measure of adiposity in elderly women?

Obes Res. 2001 Jan;9(1):17-20. doi: 10.1038/oby.2001.3.


Objective: To evaluate the accuracy of body mass index (BMI) as a predictor of body fat in elderly women.

Research methods and procedures: A total of 1423 women aged 67 +/- 5 (mean +/- SD, range: 60 to 88) years were consecutively enrolled into the study. Fat mass (FM) was measured using DXA.

Results: BMI explained 72.9% of FM variance (p < 0.0001), with a root mean square error of estimate (RMSE) of 3.5 kg. After standardization of RMSE on the dependent variable as RMSE%, the prediction error equaled 15%. BMI explained 54.8% of FM% variance (p < 0.0001), with an RMSE of 4.1%, corresponding to an RMSE% of 11%.

Discussion: The relatively high RMSE% of the FM and FM%-BMI associations caution against the use of BMI as an adiposity index in individual elderly women. However, an error corresponding to 11% of FM% may be accepted for population studies of body fat in elderly women.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Adipose Tissue
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Body Composition
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / classification*
  • Obesity / diagnosis*