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The other day I saw a site (from a hospital), with details on their programs for maintaining healthy weight. They had categories for "caucasian" and "asian" with two different BMI charts. So my question is: are there significant differences in what is considered a healthy BMI for people of different races/ethnicities?
All Asian populations studied had a higher BF% at a lower BMI compared to Caucasians. Generally, for the same BMI their BF% was 3-5% points higher compared to Caucasians. For the same BF% their BMI was 3-4 units lower compared to Caucasians. The high BF% at low BMI can be partly explained by differences in body build, i.e. differences in trunk-to-leg-length ratio and differences in slenderness. Differences in muscularity may also contribute to the different BF%/BMI relationship. Hence, the relationship between BF% and BMI is ethnic-specific. For comparisons of obesity prevalence between ethnic groups, universal BMI cut-off points are not appropriate.
For Singapore Asians, the study suggests using a BMI of 27.0 as the cutoff for Obesity ( instead of 30 ), and using a Body Mass Index of 21.0 as the cutoff for Overweight ( instead of 25 ), because these values match the same body fat percentages as caucasians.These values also match the values used in Indonesia.Singapore's 3 main ethnic groups: Chinese, Malays and Indians have slightly different body fat, body composition differences. The Obesity threshold for Singapore Indians would therefore be 26.