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PLoS One. 2015 Dec 28;10(12):e0144639. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0144639. eCollection 2015.

Surface-Based Body Shape Index and Its Relationship with All-Cause Mortality.

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Lane Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV 26506, United States of America.



Obesity is a global public health challenge. In the US, for instance, obesity prevalence remains high at more than one-third of the adult population, while over two-thirds are obese or overweight. Obesity is associated with various health problems, such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), depression, some forms of cancer, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, among others. The body mass index (BMI) is one of the best known measures of obesity. The BMI, however, has serious limitations, for instance, its inability to capture the distribution of lean mass and adipose tissue, which is a better predictor of diabetes and CVDs, and its curved ("U-shaped") relationship with mortality hazard. Other anthropometric measures and their relation to obesity have been studied, each with its advantages and limitations. In this work, we introduce a new anthropometric measure (called Surface-based Body Shape Index, SBSI) that accounts for both body shape and body size, and evaluate its performance as a predictor of all-cause mortality.


We analyzed data on 11,808 subjects (ages 18-85), from the National Health and Human Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 1999-2004, with 8-year mortality follow up. Based on the analysis, we introduce a new body shape index constructed from four important anthropometric determinants of body shape and body size: body surface area (BSA), vertical trunk circumference (VTC), height (H) and waist circumference (WC). The surface-based body shape index (SBSI) is defined as follows: SBSI = ((H(7/4))(WC(5/6)))/(BSA VTC) (1) SBSI has negative correlation with BMI and weight respectively, no correlation with WC, and shows a generally linear relationship with age. Results on mortality hazard prediction using both the Cox proportionality model, and Kaplan-Meier curves each show that SBSI outperforms currently popular body shape indices (e.g., BMI, WC, waist-to-height ratio (WHtR), waist-to-hip ratio (WHR), A Body Shape Index (ABSI)) in predicting all-cause mortality.


We combine measures of both body shape and body size to construct a novel anthropometric measure, the surface-based body shape index (SBSI). SBSI is generally linear with age, and increases with increasing mortality, when compared with other popular anthropometric indices of body shape.

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