As we discussed yesterday, the BMI method of determining obesity is the shotgun approach. Many people are designated obese when they are just overweight. Many more are of norrmal weight, but classified as overweight based on the BMI.
No one will argue being obese is healthy, but when the BMI measurement is used for everything from recreational activities to insurance rates, you need to step back and take a look.
And that’s what we’re going to do. We’ll examine a few of other ways to determine obesity in your life that don’t rely on BMI. These methods are typically more accurate as they take into account many factors.
Underwater weighing: This is the number one measurement in the scientific community for rating obesity. It involves a large tank of water and a chair that can lift the person in and out. Prior to going into the water the person is weighed. They then get on the chair and they are submerged in the water then weighed.
There are a few of considerations: 1) The person needs to exhale all the air out of their lungs, as this may affect results. 2) The person needs to be completely submerged. 3) The water must come to a stand still.
Yes, it’s onerous and a series of multiple readings is necessary.
Because muscle and bone have a higher density than water you will weigh more in the water. Using mathmatical calculations you can remove the any question and get the proper obesity factor. This is due to the the fact the density of fat is constant.
Skin calipers: This is called the pinch test among the casual observers. You select 4-8 test sites and use a caliper to pinch your fat. The fat right under your skin is always in a ratio with the fat deeper down. When you get the measurements you can use a formula to find your obesity level.
If you’re serious about this it’s best to have a professional do this. The home calipers you can get aren’t as sensitive and someone trained in caliper usage will have better results.
DXA: DXA is the Star Trek technology to measure obesity. The real long name is dual energy X-ray absorptiometry, and yes, I copied and pasted that. Imagine laying on a table with an arm above you. It’s like the old projectors teachers used to show diagrams in class. Here is a picture.
It works by shooting two x-rays at your body. The x-rays have different energy levels, so the machine can deduce how much of the energy is absorbed by different parts of your body. This will lead to your obesity level.
The bummer is that this is not wide used in clinical settings yet.
So, there you have three scientific ways to measure obesity that don’t rely on a formula developed a long time ago, and doesn’t take into consideration unique physical traits.