Does body mass index predict overweight in native Asian Indians? A study from a North Indian population

Ann Nutr Metab. 2006;50(1):66-73. doi: 10.1159/000089673. Epub 2005 Nov 10.


Aims: Body mass index (BMI) has been considered as a gold standard for defining overweight and obesity, and in western populations it has correlated with percentage body fat (%BF). However, data in native Asian Indians regarding BMI and %BF is conflicting and questions have been raised to redefine the BMI cut-off values in these subjects.

Subjects and methods: 150 healthy volunteers (79 men and 71 women aged 18-78 and 23-75 years respectively) were recruited for the study. Clinical examination was performed to exclude any systemic disease. Anthropometric measurements were done and %BF was calculated from skinfold thickness.

Results: The BMI for men was 24.96 kg/m(2) (+/-3.85) and for women was 25.75 kg/m(2) (+/-4.39).%BF calculated by skinfold thickness was 21.94% (+/-5.92) in men and 35.15% (+/-5.77) in women. Receiver operating characteristic curve analysis showed a higher sensitivity (92%) and higher negative predictive value (95%) for the conventional cut-off value of the BMI (25 kg/m(2)) in identifying subjects with overweight with %BF of more than 25% in men. However, in females a BMI of 23.9 kg/m(2) had a sensitivity of 84% and negative predictive value of 62% thereby decreasing the misclassification by 13% with %BF of more than 30% as compared to conventional BMI cut-off of >25 kg/m(2). A comparison of BF data amongst Caucasians, Blacks and migrant ethnic Asians revealed inconspicuous differences in men.

Conclusion: Native North Indian men had comparative BMI and %BF as that of their western counterparts.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / anatomy & histology
  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • African Continental Ancestry Group
  • Aged
  • Anthropometry
  • Asian Continental Ancestry Group
  • Body Composition / physiology*
  • Body Mass Index*
  • European Continental Ancestry Group*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • India / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Obesity / ethnology
  • Oceanic Ancestry Group
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • ROC Curve
  • Sensitivity and Specificity