Relationship between body mass index and percent body fat in Vietnamese: Implications for the diagnosis of obesity
© 2015 Ho-Pham et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Background The burden of obesity in Vietnam has not been well defined because there is a lack of reference data for percent body fat (PBF) in Asians. This study sought to define the relationship between PBF and body mass index (BMI) in the Vietnamese population. Methods The study was designed as a comparative cross-sectional investigation that involved 1217 individuals of Vietnamese background (862 women) aged 20 years and older (average age 7 yr) who were randomly selected from the general population in Ho Chi Minh City. Lean mass (LM) and fat mass (FM) were measured by DXA (Hologic QDR 4500). PBF was derived as FM over body weight. Results Based on BMI 30, the prevalence of obesity was 1.1% and 1.3% for men and women, respectively. The prevalence of overweight and obesity combined (BMI 25) was ∼ 24% and ∼ 19% in men and women, respectively. Based on the quadratic relationship between BMI and PBF, the approximate PBF corresponding to the BMI threshold of 30 (obese) was 30.5 in men and 41 in women. Using the criteria of PBF >30 in men and PBF >40 in women, approximately 15% of men and women were considered obese. Conclusion These data suggest that body mass index underestimates the prevalence of obesity. We suggest that a PBF >30 in men or PBF >40 in women is used as criteria for the diagnosis of obesity in Vietnamese adults. Using these criteria, 15% of Vietnamese adults in Ho Chi Minh City was considered obese.
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