Singapore Institute of Technology
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Relationship between BMI with percentage body fat and obesity in Singaporean adults – The Yishun Study.

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posted on 2023-11-22, 06:13 authored by Kexun Kenneth Chen, Shiou Liang WeeShiou Liang Wee, Benedict Wei Jun Pang, Lay Khoon Lau, Khalid Abdul Jabbar, Wei Ting Seah, Tze Pin Ng


The main aim of this study was to the determine relationship between Body Mass Index (BMI) and percentage body fat (BF%) in Singaporean adults, derive a prediction model to estimate BF%, and to report population BF%. The secondary aim was to determine the prevalence of overweight and obesity based on BF% threshold and the new risk categories for obesity in Singaporean population.


This was a population-based study of 542 community-dwelling Singaporeans (21–90 years old, 43.1% men). Anthropometry and body composition were assessed. Relationship between BMI and BF% were analysed using multiple regression models. Prevalence of overweight and obesity were estimated using WHO and Singapore Ministry of Health (MOH) Clinical Practice Guidelines for BMI classification, and BF% cut-off points of 25 and 35% for men and women respectively.


We derived a prediction model to estimate BF% based on BMI, age and sex. The current cohort of Singaporeans when compared to Caucasians in the US and Europe as well as a Singapore cohort from 20 years age have higher BF% when matched for BMI, age, and sex. The overall population-adjusted prevalence of obesity according to WHO International classification (BMI ≥30 kg/m2) was 12.9% (14.9% men; 11.0% women); and 26.6% (30.7% men; 22.8% women) according to the MOH classification (BMI ≥27.5 kg/m2). However, using the BF% cut-off (> 25% for men and > 35% for women) resulted in very high prevalence of obesity of 82.0% (80.2% men; 83.8% women).


There is a large discrepancy between BF% and BMI measured obesity in Singaporean adults. The results confirmed that Singaporean adults have higher BF% at lower BMI compared to US and Europe white counterparts; and that BF% in our population has increased over two decades.


Core grant from MOH to GERI


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BMC Public Health

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