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Links between asthma, inflammation and fat mass

Have you ever heard about the body mass index (BMI)? We’re sure that if you’ve gone to a nutritionist he/she calculated yours. The BMI is a screening tool that considers your height and weight and provides a measure of whether someone is under-, normal, or overweight. It is widely used to calculate your body size, situating either in a healthy range or in a span where health risks may increase significantly.

Even if it’s amply used, its “era” is already considered finished, since very recently it was strongly questioned.

The BMI is calculated as the body mass divided by the square of the body height. Let’s make some numbers with a couple of examples. On one hand, we have a "hypermuscular lifeguard" 1.70 m tall, weighing 87 kg (all muscles!). If you do the maths you’ll obtain a BMI of 30.1 (BMI= 87/(1.70 x 1.70)). Ok now let’s do the same for an “obese lady” 1.70 m tall, withing 87 kg (mostly fat). No calculator is needed to see that her BMI is exactly the same as the lifeguard. But not only, if we check the tables that define the BMI ranges we’ll notice that it corresponds to an obese class I for both! Do you see why it’s not so accurate?

In addition, in recent years it has been understood that food inflammation, allergies (asthma and rhinitis), and fattening (insulin resistance) are strongly correlated.

With all this in the background, in 2017 a very important article was published on a Journal that might be considered as the “bible for Immunologists”. This paper explained that the relationship between food, asthma, and weight gain cannot be expressed with the old BMI tool but must be documented with the percentage of fat mass present in each subject.

And it does make sense. If we go back to the example of our two friends with the same BMI, it turns out that the lifeguard, despite a BMI of 30.1, has a fat mass of 16%, discarding his “obesity”. Instead, the lady in our example has a fat mass of 32%, that confirms her overweight.

Ok then, but where’s the correlation between allergies? The article we mentioned, measured BMI, body composition, and the type of fat distribution in 6,000 children. It showed that only fat mass and abdominal fat distribution were strongly correlated to respiratory function. Meaning that fattening is related to asthma and allergic diseases. And this is why the article was so important because abdominal fat distribution is closely correlated with food inflammation and the levels of BAFF and PAF that we systematically measure in the Food Inflammation Test.

This means that the greater prevalence of allergy does not depend on the BMI but on the actual percentage of fat mass. In our example, the athletic lifeguard does not have a higher prevalence of allergy, while the lady with a high-fat mass does.

In conclusion, BMI cannot be used as a true indicator of fattening or weight loss. The typical fattening is strongly correlated with inflammation and allergic diseases. And that’s why the treatment of an allergy also requires the measurement of food inflammation for its best therapy.

A fat child or a "chubby" adult does not necessarily have to be asthmatic or allergic. Nevertheless allergic people with a few extra pounds, distributed in the wrong places, can improve and heal with a correct diet that controls food related-inflammation and insulin resistance. If this is your case don’t hesitate and get the Food Inflammation Test.