• Global News
  • Press Releases
  • Publications
  • Better Terminology is Needed to Identify Individuals Who Have An Unhealthy Body Composition

    A growing number of scientists and healthcare experts have been challenging the paradigm of using body weight or body mass index (BMI) as a measure of an individual’s health status. In brief, at issue is the problem that body weight or BMI can falsely identify individuals who are more muscular as obese and falsely identify people with low muscle mass and excess fat mass as normal. Such classification errors are not just an inconvenience, they can then contribute to false perceptions of health for at-risk individuals and their healthcare providers.

    A better measure is body composition, which takes into account an individual’s lean and fat mass.  But, say researchers from Australia and New Zealand in a recent publication in the journal Frontiers in Public Health, better language is also needed to help improve a person’s understanding of their situation. Their suggested terminology is simple:  people are underfat, have normal body fat, or are overfat.  Applying these designations, the authors estimate that a whopping 62-76% of the world’s population (4.5-5.5 billion people) is overfat and only 14-28% have normal body fat.


    Maffetone PB, Rivera-Dominguez I, Laursen PB. Overfat and Underfat: New Terms and Definitions Long Overdue. Front Public Health 2016;4:279.

    Feb 15, 2017 at 8:23 pm | Global News