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Int J Circumpolar Health. 2005 Apr;64(2):163-9.

Body mass index may overestimate the prevalence of overweight and obesity among the Inuit.

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School of Dietetics and Human Nutrition and Centre for Indigenous Peoples' Nutrition and Environment (CINE), McGill University, Qu├ębec, Canada.


Body mass index (BMI) is a widely used body weight classification system but has known limitations, and may need to be adjusted for sitting height in order to be useful as an indicator of health risks in special populations. Data confirm that Inuit and Far East Asians have shorter legs and relatively higher sitting heights compared with all other populations. Using standing height alone to calculate the BMI may overestimate the number of individuals that are overweight and obese, and at risk for type 2 diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular disease among the Inuit. Measuring sitting height allows for the calculation of a sitting height-to-standing height ratio (SH/S) which can be used to correct the observed BMI. Incorporating sitting height measurements into health research could help formulate Inuit-specific screening guidelines.

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