BMI tests underestimate obesity in teens with disabilities

10 June 2015
A new approach is needed to assess young people with disabilities when it comes to determining a healthy weight, a report has claimed.

Obesity is a significant problem for children and young adults with mobility problems and physical disabilities, according to the research. 

Published in the American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, the report suggests new cutoff points for identifying teens with disabilities who may need diagnosis and treatment to prevent health and functional problems due to excess body weight.

Led by Dr Brooks Wingo, from the University of Alabama, the study looked at 29 adolescents teenagers who had sustained a spinal cord injury or other types of physical disability, which meant they needed a wheelchair. 

The researchers used various clinical indicators of body weight such as BMI and also looked at the width of a skinfold pinched in the upper arm and circumferences of the waist, arm, and leg.

Some 35 per cent of boys and 58 per cent of girls were classed as obese when looking at all tests and body scans, however, when just using BMI many would have misclassified as non-obese. Based on the standard BMI cutoff point, only six per cent of boys and 42 per cent of girls were classified as obese. 

Posted by Phillip Briggs

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