More Women May Be Obese Than Thought

GALVESTON, Texas, April 23 (UPI) — One-half of white women and more than two-thirds of Hispanic women in the United States may be obese by an international standard, researchers said.

Lead author Dr. Mahbubur Rahman of the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston said current U.S. National Institutes of Health body mass index values may not account for ethnic differences, and almost half of the reproductive-age women found “not obese” by these guidelines would be considered obese by World Health Organization standards — in which obesity is defined by percentage of body fat, a more accurate measure, but more costly to achieve.

The study, scheduled to be published in the May issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology, suggested a single BMI value may not be appropriate for a diverse population and may cause women at risk to be overlooked.

“It is especially important to accurately assess obesity in reproductive-age women, as they are more likely to be obese than similarly aged men,” Rahman said in a statement. “These women are at risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other obesity-related health conditions and may forgo or be overlooked for needed tests and treatments.”

The researchers recommend that women whose BMI is between 25 and 29.9 kg/m2 be alerted to get counseling to reduce their body weight and avoid obesity.

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