Researchers at the Institute for Systems Biology (ISB) have developed a new way of measuring metabolic health.
They used a biological body mass index (BMI) that provides a more accurate representation than the traditional BMI equation.
The new measures are more varied, informative, and actionable, and were published in the journal Nature Medicine.
The traditional BMI score has been used for decades to classify individuals based on their height and weight in comparison to an average person.
However, this approach has limitations, as about 30% of the population is misclassified.
Despite this, BMI is still used widely by clinicians, as it is a major risk factor for chronic diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer.
The new approach developed by the ISB researchers uses advanced molecular measurements to provide a more comprehensive representation of a person’s metabolic health.
This can be used to make more accurate clinical recommendations for individuals.
The researchers studied 1,000 individuals who enrolled in a wellness program by performing multi-omic profiling, examining more than 1,100 blood analytes such as proteins and metabolites, as well as genetic risk scores and gut microbiome composition collected at various time points.
They then generated machine learning models that led to more accurate predictive variations of a biological BMI than traditional measures of BMI alone.
The study made several important findings, including:
People with a high biological BMI and normal traditional BMI were less healthy, but were able to lose weight more easily following a lifestyle intervention.
People classified as obese with traditional BMI but with a normal biological BMI were more biologically healthy, and found it harder to lose weight.
When people made positive lifestyle changes, biological BMI was more responsive and dropped earlier than traditional BMI.
With positive lifestyle changes, even if someone is not losing weight, they may be getting healthier biologically.
The researchers hope that this work will help improve the development of predictive and preventive clinical approaches for treating metabolic disturbances associated with obesity and chronic disease.
They emphasized the need to consider a range of factors beyond traditional measures of BMI in understanding and addressing these issues.
How to improve your metabolic health
Improving metabolic health can be achieved through a number of lifestyle changes and modifications. Here are some tips to improve metabolic health:
Exercise regularly: Exercise can improve metabolic health by increasing insulin sensitivity, reducing inflammation, and improving blood sugar control. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week.
Eat a healthy diet: A balanced diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can help improve metabolic health. Avoid processed and high-sugar foods, which can lead to insulin resistance and inflammation.
Get enough sleep: Sleep is important for metabolic health, as lack of sleep can disrupt hormonal balance and lead to weight gain and insulin resistance. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
Manage stress: Chronic stress can increase cortisol levels, which can lead to insulin resistance and weight gain. Try relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing to manage stress.
Maintain a healthy weight: Maintaining a healthy weight can help improve metabolic health by reducing the risk of obesity-related diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption: Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can both have negative effects on metabolic health. Quitting smoking and reducing alcohol consumption can help improve metabolic health.
Consult with a healthcare provider: Consulting with a healthcare provider can help identify any underlying health conditions or risk factors for metabolic disorders. They can also provide guidance on lifestyle changes and medications that can help improve metabolic health.
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The study was conducted by Noa Rappaport et al and published in Nature Medicine.
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