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.