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DXA reference values and anthropometric screening for visceral obesity in Western Australian adults

Title: DXA reference values and anthropometric screening for visceral obesity in Western Australian adults

Authors: Dr Jonathan Staynor, Marc Smith, Dr Cyril Donnelly, Dr Amar El-Sallam, & Dr Tim Ackland

Journal: Nature - Scientific Reports

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Access the paper here

Lead by Professor Tim Ackland at The University of Western Australia, the objectives of this study were to provide reference values for iDXA-derived visceral adipose tissue mass and compare these with anthropometry measures and the commonly used Body Mass Index (BMI). Visceral adipose tissue (VAT) is fat stored internally within the abdominal cavity in close proximity to internal organs; it is a significant predictor of incident cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and mortality. The study cohort comprised 677 men and 738 women aged 18–65 years. Participants underwent criterion measurements of body composition and anthropometry by trained technicians. iDXA scans are considered a gold standard for measuring an individual’s whole body composition. The iDXA data presented in this publication is the same dataset that was used to train, validate, and test AHI's in-device machine learning models for body circumference and composition predictions. The publication of this iDXA data, in an internationally respected journal which focuses on scientific rigour, highlights the quality of the methods and processes used to collect and analyse this data.

Highlights of the paper include:

  • The first published iDXA visceral adipose tissue mass reference values within an Australian population.
  • Enables accurate identification of people with increased VAT mass, who may be at increased risk of metabolic and chronic diseases.
  • Enables accurate recommendations for the use of waist circumference and percent body fat, instead of BMI, to screen and identify people with high levels of VAT mass.
  • Provides invaluable findings of normative distributions of body composition for researchers and clinicians.

Specific Findings:

  • For both men and women, WC and WHtR were more highly correlated with VAT mass when compared to BMI. This also extended to WHR among the male population.
  • An obese BMI (30 kg/m2) misclassified 51% of women and 36% of men with high VAT mass.
  • Given their higher VAT mass and increasing trend at an earlier age, Australian males may be more at-risk to non-communicable disease and premature mortality when compared with their female counterparts.

The normative distributions presented within the research allow for the screening of people with body composition phenotypes associated with an increased risk of chronic disease. Screening is made possible through the use of accessible measures of body circumferences; which have potential to highlight people who should be referred for additional body composition and health assessments, as well as given appropriate advice to reduce long-term disease risk.

Advanced Human Imaging's technology leverages this extensive dataset to accurately measure body shape and composition within a user’s smartphone to identify biometric indicators for the early identification of health risks.

About Nature and Scientific Reports:

Scientific Reports is an open access Nature Research journal and is the 6th most-cited journal in the world, with more than 540,000 citations in 2020. Scientific Reports considers original research from all areas of natural and clinical sciences and focuses on publishing peer-reviewed papers of high technical and scientific quality and receives widespread attention in policy documents and the media.

June 1, 2022

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