Researchers have developed a biological BMI whose measurements offer a more accurate representation of metabolic health than the standard BMI.
- About 30% of the population is misclassified when calculating BMI.
- Researchers have thus developed the biological BMI. The latter is based on an analysis of elements present in the blood, genetic risk scores or the composition of the intestinal microbiome.
- When people change their lifestyle, the biological BMI shows itself to be more responsive than the standard BMI. It decreases earlier.
Body mass index (BMI) has been used for years to determine if a person is normal weight or if they are underweight, overweight or obese. But this calculation has limits and around 30% of the population would be misclassified through it.
Researchers at the Institute for Systems Biology (ISB) have developed a new measurement. Called Biological BMI, it offers a more accurate and informative view of a patient’s metabolic health. Their work has been featured in the journal NatureMedicine.
Biological BMI: a more complete measurement than the classic BMI
To establish the biological BMI, the researchers studied 1,000 people enrolled in a wellness program. They carried out their multi-omics profiling (assessment using genomic or even metabolomic data, Editor’s note). They thus examined more than 1,100 elements present in the blood such as proteins and metabolites. They also took into account the genetic risk scores and the composition of the intestinal microbiome collected at different times. The researchers then generated machine learning models that led to more accurate predictive variations than traditional BMI measurements.
“For years, BMI has been the go-to measurement for doctors to classify individuals based on their height and weight relative to an average person. However, that average person doesn’t really exist. We now have the ability to use advanced molecular measurements as a more complete representation of an individual’s metabolic health, which can be used to make more accurate clinical recommendations for individuals”explains the researcher and author of the study, Professor Noa Rappaport.
The biological BMI reacts more quickly to the improvement of the hygiene of life
In developing their measurement which can only be performed by medical professionals, the team found that people who have a high biological BMI and a normal traditional BMI are in poorer health. However, they manage to lose weight more easily than others when they improve their lifestyle.
Individuals classified as obese with a standard BMI, but who had a normal biological BMI, have good biological health, but they have difficulty losing their extra pounds.
Another finding: When people make positive lifestyle changes, biological BMI is more responsive and declines sooner than the standard measure. Thus, the results suggest that a person who has adopted a healthier lifestyle can improve their biological health, even if they have not lost weight.
“We demonstrated the value of multi-omics profiling in revealing important insights into the complex relationships between obesity, metabolic health and chronic disease, and underscored the need to consider a range of factors beyond traditional measures of BMI to understand and treat these problems”adds the expert.