Koreans Do Not Have Higher Percent Body Fat than Australians: Implication for the Diagnosis of Obesity in Asians

Duong Duc Pham, Seung Ku Lee, Chol Shin, Nan Hee Kim, John A. Eisman, Jacqueline R. Center, Tuan V. Nguyen, Chae Hun Leem

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objective: It has been assumed that, for a given BMI, Asians have higher percent body fat (PBF) than Caucasians. As a result, it has been suggested that the BMI threshold for diagnosing obesity in Asians be lowered to less than 30 kg/m2. This study sought to compare PBF between Koreans and Australians. Methods: Whole-body fat mass and PBF were measured in 1,211 Koreans and 1,006 Australians using dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (Lunar Prodigy; GE Healthcare, Madison, Wisconsin). The two groups were then matched for age and BMI by the propensity score method. Results: For a given age and BMI, Koreans had lower PBF than Australians, and the difference was statistically significant in women (mean difference: −2.13%; 95% CI: −2.61% to −1.65%) but not in men (difference: −0.54%; 95% CI: −1.22% to 0.14%). Matched-pair analysis (423 pairs of women and 208 pairs of men) also showed that Korean women had statistically lower PBF than their Australian counterparts (P < 0.001). Conclusions: In individuals aged 60 years and older, Koreans do not have higher PBF than Australians after adjusting for BMI. These results suggest that there is no evidence for lowering the BMI threshold for the diagnosis of obesity in elderly Koreans.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1892-1897
Number of pages6
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Nov 1


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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