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HealthlineIs the Body Roundness Index the New BMI? What it Says About Your Health

New Research Validates Body Roundness Index as a Superior Predictor of Mortality Risk Compared to BMI, Highlighting Trends and Implications for Public Health and Clinical Practice

A recent study published in JAMA Network Open suggests that the Body Roundness Index (BRI) may offer a more accurate assessment of health risks than the traditional Body Mass Index (BMI). The study, which analyzed data from nearly 33,000 US adults over 20 years, found a significant correlation between BRI and all-cause mortality, presenting a U-shaped curve where individuals with both low and high BRI scores had an increased risk of death. This new metric could potentially refine clinical assessments of obesity-related health risks.

Key Points:

  • Study Overview:
    • The study analyzed data from 33,000 US adults, sourced from the NHANES database over a 20-year period (1999-2018).
    • Participants’ average age was 46 years; half were women, and the cohort was predominantly white (68.26%).
  • Body Roundness Index (BRI):
    • BRI is a novel body composition measurement that includes height, weight, waist circumference, and sometimes hip circumference.
    • It provides a more accurate assessment of body shape and health risks compared to BMI, which only uses height and weight.
  • Findings:
    • The study found a U-shaped relationship between BRI and all-cause mortality risk, with increased risk at both low and high BRI values.
    • Individuals with a BRI below 3.4 had a 25% increased mortality risk, while those with a BRI of 6.9 had a 49% increased risk.
    • Over the 20-year period, there was a noticeable increase in average BRI from 4.8 to 5.62.
  • Implications for Clinical Practice:
    • BRI could serve as a noninvasive and easily obtainable screening tool for estimating mortality risk and identifying high-risk individuals.
    • It provides a more direct measure of central adiposity, strongly correlating with metabolic diseases like type 2 diabetes.
  • Limitations of BMI:
    • BMI does not distinguish between muscle and fat, which can result in misleading health assessments.
    • Despite its flaws, BMI remains widely used due to its simplicity and ease of measurement.
  • Potential Barriers:
    • The term “Body Roundness Index” may be seen as offensive, potentially hindering its acceptance and use in clinical practice.

“Our findings provide compelling evidence for the application of BRI as a noninvasive and easy to obtain screening tool for estimation of mortality risk and identification of high-risk individuals, a novel concept that could be incorporated into public health practice pending consistent validation in other independent studies.”
— Study Authors

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