Is a Re-evaluation of WHO Body Mass Index Cut-off Values Needed? The Case of Asians in Singapore

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Abstract

This paper describes body composition and dietary intakes of the three major ethnic groups residing in Singapore and how these are related to cardiovascular risk factors in these groups. When the relationship between body mass index (BMI, kg/m2) and body fat percentage was studied, Singaporeans were found to have higher percentage of body fat compared with Caucasians with the same BMI. At BMIs that are much lower than WHO-recommended cut-off values for obesity, both the absolute and relative risks of developing cardiovascular risk factors are markedly elevated for all three ethnic groups. The excessive fat accumulation and increased risks at lower BMIs signal a need to re-examine cut-off values for obesity among Chinese, Malays, and Indians.

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