Body Volume Index: the New BMI?
By Carolyn Richardson
Numbers are a significant part of trying to lose weight. Be it pounds, inches, calories, or minutes, we’re all counting our way to a healthier lifestyle. While many of us have a goal weight, others are focused on a goal BMI. That is to say, we want to be healthy according to the standard measurement that screens for obesity, called Body Mass Index (BMI). A comparison of height and weight, BMI is meant to determine a person’s health risks for chronic disease such as heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes. However, it doesn’t directly measure a person’s body fat, or account for an adults’ age or body composition, leaving many, including pregnant women, athletes, body builders, and the elderly, categorized incorrectly. Enter Body Volume Index (BVI), a newly proposed measurement that could replace BMI.
What is BVI?
Created by Select Research, BVI is an electronic measurement that, along with weight and body fat distribution, accounts for body composition, age, height, gender, and medical history. The process of getting your BVI is much like going through security at the airport. A 3D scanner takes the image of a person’s body and inputs it into computer software that calculates hundreds of measurements, including waist-to-hip ratio, body fat percentage, and even BMI. According to its website, the test takes less than 6 seconds and does not use radiation or lasers.
Since its launch, BVI has been vetted by the Body Benchmark Project, a research study conducted by the manufacturer itself, and a number of other entities including The Mayo Clinic here in the US. For medical professionals, this machine may mean better accuracy for tracking patients over time. Instead of using a tape measure, weight scale, and taking other measurements each visit, using BVI could be more efficient in showing a patient’s progress. For those who know their BVI who are overweight or obese, it could mean a more personalized approach to treatment and a clearer wake up call for what getting in shape means.
On the other hand, getting the BVI test may be too much information. Aside from feeling like you’re in an airport in your doctor’s office, seeing a 3D scan could send someone with body image issues on the wrong path. And while doctors do point out the importance of knowing how your weight is distributed, a person with too much abdominal fat for instance could become focused on losing weight in a certain spot, rather than focusing on getting healthier overall. Getting the hundreds of measurements the BVI calculates may be good to know, but practically speaking, many who need to lose weight may be uncomfortable with the possible cost of a doctor’s visit and the use of an expensive machine to get the info.
So who would be going for this BVI? I sure would if it is available in my country.