BVI a health risk indicator for the 21st century

The Body Volume Indicator has been developed as a body composition measure and according to physician Dr Francisco Lopez-Jimenez from Mayo Clinic, "will in time replace BMI". BMI was created between the 1830’s and 1850's by a Belgian statistician as a broad-based public health measurement tool. Body Mass Index (BMI) is calculated solely on an individual’s height and weight; its accuracy as a risk indicator has since been called into question. 

BMI does not take into account age, gender or body shape, crucial factors when categorizing weight and assessing individual health risks.  Nor is BMI able to differentiate adipose tissue (fat) from lean body mass or muscle; as a result, BMI may incorrectly classify healthy men and women as being overweight or obese, and does not reflect any changes in their health risks. Measurement of body composition, weight distribution and volume of visceral fat is regarded as a more appropriate way to assess obesity risks. 

The accuracy of BMI in determining the degree of obesity or body fat (BF) levels is limited, particularly for men and elderly individuals in the intermediate BMI ranges (25-29.9). Additionally, BMI does not measure the volume of abdominal fat, a factor which can put individuals with higher levels of visceral fat at a higher risk for metabolic and cardiovascular diseases.


Belly Fat’, ‘abdominal’, or ‘visceral’, fat is known as the “silent killer” as it lies deep within the abdominal cavity, padding the spaces between major abdominal organs, including the liver, pancreas and kidneys. It is not openly discussed with patients by physicians as, until now, an MRI was the only device capable of accurately measuring visceral fat and that process was not automatically displayed to the patient. Because it is hidden within the body, visceral fat is more of a health concern than subcutaneous fat. 

More than two-thirds (68.8%) of American adults are considered to be overweight or obese. The more weight around a person’s belly/abdominal area, the greater is deemed to be the health risk.

Visceral fat is directly linked to cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, higher total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol, lower HDL (good) cholesterol, insulin resistance, Alzheimer’s Disease and for women in particular, visceral fat is associated with breast cancer and the need for gallbladder surgery. 

According to a study by University of Illinois at Chicago, subcutaneous fat does not carry the same risks as visceral fat, and may even be considered protective.

Regular physical activity and diet can help individuals lose their visceral fat, in addition to providing benefits like lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.



Developed by Select Research, BVI is the result of over 10 years of successful cooperative development with Mayo Clinic based in Rochester, Minnesota and the Medical Research Council in the UK. Additional collaborators from all over the world have been involved, including Heartlands NHS Hospital, Aston University and the University of Westminster. A full list of collaborators is shown below.

Select Research has been a pioneer in 3D photonic measurement of the human body, with over 20 years of research and development. Patented in the US and across Europe, BVI technology produces a 3D image from only two digital images, while other methods (MRI, DEXA, Ultrasound and Bio-Impedance) of measuring body volume are based on two-dimensional data applications.​ The BVI application is CE marked in Europe, MHRA approved in the UK and certified by FDA as a 'general wellness' product.




  1. Body Mass Index: Obesity, BMI, and Health: A Critical Review. Nuttall, Frank Q. 3, 2015, Nutrition Today, Vol. 50, pp. 117-128.
  2. Accuracy of body mass index in diagnosing obesity in the adult general population. Romero-Corral, A., Somers, V,K,, Sierra-Johnson, J., Thomas, R.J., Collazo-Clavell, M.L., Korinek, J., Allison, T.G., Batsis, J.A., Sert-Kuniyoshi, F.H., Lopez-Jimenez, F. 6, 2008, International Journal of Obesity, Vol. 32.
  3. Misclassification of cardiometabolic health when using body mass index categories in NHANES 2005–2012. Tomiyama, A. J., Hunger, J. M., Nguyen-Cuu, J., Wells, C. 4, 2016, International Journal of Obesity, Vol. 1.
  4. Comparison of anthropometric and body composition measures as predictors of components of the metabolic syndrome in a clinical setting. Mooney, Stephen J. and Baecker, Aileen and Rundle, Andrew G. 2013, Obesity Research & Clinical Practice, Vol. 7, pp. 55-66.
  5. Visceral fat thickness measured by ultrasonography can estimate. Soo Kyung Kim, Hae Jin Kim, Kyu Yeon Hur, Sung Hee Choi, Chul Woo Ahn, Sung Kil Lim, Kyung Rae Kim,. 4, 2004, The American Jounral of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 79, pp. 594-599.
  6. Measuring Adiposity in Patients: The Utility of Body Mass Index (BMI), Percent Body Fat, and Leptin. Shah, Nirav R. and Braverman, Eric R. 2012 : s.n., PLOS One.
  7. Waist Circumference and Cardiometabolic Risk: A Consensus Statement from Shaping America's Health: Association for Weight Management and Obesity Prevention; NAASO, The Obesity Society; the American Society for Nutrition; and the American Diabetes Associat. Klein, Samuel, et al. 6, 2007, Diabetes Care, Vol. 30, pp. 1647-1652.
  8. Relationship between visceral fat and cardiovascular disease risk factors: the Tanno and Sobetsu study. Chiba, Y., et al. 3, 2007, Hypertension Research, Vol. 30.
  9. Association of bodyweight with total mortality and with cardiovascular events in coronary artery disease: a systematic review of cohort studies. Romero-Corral, Abel, et al. 9536, 2006, The Lancet, Vol. 368, pp. 666–678.
  10. Taking aim at belly fat. [Online] August 2010.
  11. Chicago, University of Illinois at. Why is visceral fat worse than subcutaneous fat? Science Daily. [Online] April 2016.
  12. Prevalence of Overweight and Obesity in the United States, 2007-2012. Yang, Lin and Colditz, Graham A. 8, 2015, JAMA Intern Med, Vol. 175, pp. 1412-1413.
  13. Visceral Obesity and Breast Cancer Risk. David V. Sckapira, M.B.Ck.B., F.R.C.P.(C),*Robert A. Clark, M.D., et al. 2, 1994, Cancer, Vol. 74, pp. 632-9.
  14. Abdominal visceral fat accumulation measured bycomputed tomography associated with an increased riskof gallstone disease. Katsunori Sekine, Naoyoshi Nagata, Kayo Sakamoto,Tomohiro Arai,Takuro Shimbo,Masafumi Shinozaki,Hidetaka Okubo, Kazuhiro Watanabe, Koh Imbe, Shintaro Mikami,Yuichi Nozaki, Toshiyuki Sakurai, Chizu Yokoi, Yasushi Kojima, Masao Kobayakawa, Mikio Yanase, Ju. 2015, Journal of Gastroenerology and Hepatology, Vol. 30, pp. 1325-31.
  15. Relationship of Abdominal Visceral and Subcutaneous Adipose Tissue With Lipoprotein Particle Number and Size in Type 2 Diabetes. Sam, Susan, et al. 8, 2008, Diabetes, Vol. 57, pp. 2022–2027.
  16. Abdominal fat and what to do about it. Harvard Health Publications. [Online] 2015.




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