High body mass index is not a barrier to physical activity: Analysis of international rugby players' anthropometric data

King, N.A., Hills, A.P., & Blundell, J.E. (2005) High body mass index is not a barrier to physical activity: Analysis of international rugby players' anthropometric data. European Journal of Sport Science, 5(2), pp. 73-75.

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Abstract

Recent data indicate that levels of overweight and obesity are increasing at an alarming rate throughout the world. At a population level (and commonly to assess individual health risk), the prevalence of overweight and obesity is calculated using cut-offs of the Body Mass Index (BMI) derived from height and weight. Similarly, the BMI is also used to classify individuals and to provide a notional indication of potential health risk.

It is likely that epidemiologic surveys that are reliant on BMI as a measure of adiposity will overestimate the number of individuals in the overweight (and slightly obese) categories. This tendency to misclassify individuals may be more pronounced in athletic populations or groups in which the proportion of more active individuals is higher. This differential is most pronounced in sports where it is advantageous to have a high BMI (but not necessarily high fatness). To illustrate this point we calculated the BMIs of international professional rugby players from the four teams involved in the semi-finals of the 2003 Rugby Union World Cup. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) cut-offs for BMI, approximately 65% of the players were classified as overweight and approximately 25% as obese.

These findings demonstrate that a high BMI is commonplace (and a potentially desirable attribute for sport performance) in professional rugby players. An unanswered question is what proportion of the wider population, classified as overweight (or obese) according to the BMI, is misclassified according to both fatness and health risk? It is evident that being overweight should not be an obstacle to a physically active lifestyle. Similarly, a reliance on BMI alone may misclassify a number of individuals who might otherwise have been automatically considered fat and/or unfit.

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ID Code: 23800
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Obesity, Physical Activity, BMI, Overweight, Rugby
ISSN: 1746-1391
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > PUBLIC HEALTH AND HEALTH SERVICES (111700) > Health Promotion (111712)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > PUBLIC HEALTH AND HEALTH SERVICES (111700) > Preventive Medicine (111716)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Centre for Health Research
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Deposited On: 17 Jun 2009 14:09
Last Modified: 12 Nov 2015 05:14

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