Early to Bed Adds Up to Good Health
How to Do the Appropriate Sandbag Strength Development Training

The Great BMI Debate

The Great BMI Debate

Submitted by: Becky Dorner

One of my RDNs posed this question recently related to BMI levels for older adults:

I've been seeing transfer notes from the hospital and other nursing homes with diet/nutrition histories where RDNs are charting that BMIs of less than 23 is underweight. For example, one note documented that a BMI of 21.3 was underweight "for age" for a man who was 92. State surveyors are also asking for a list of residents with BMI under 21 and wanting to see interventions on them. The MDS does not trigger for a low BMI until under 19. Do we need to adapt our practices?

The National Institute of Health classification of overweight and obesity by body mass index (BMI) is as follows:

Classification - Normal

Obesity Class - None

BMI (kg/m2) - 18.4-24.9

Classification - Overweight

Obesity Class - None

BMI (kg/m2) - 25.0-29.9

Classification - Obesity

Obesity Class - I

BMI (kg/m2) - 30.0-34.9

Classification - Obesity

Obesity Class - II

BMI (kg/m2) - 35.0-39.9

Classification - Extreme Obesity

Obesity Class - III

BMI (kg/m2) - > 40

BMI is interpreted based on age, health history, usual body weight, and weight history.

Adults should be assessed for indicators of nutritional status and decline using body mass index (BMI) as one of many factors. Data suggests that a higher BMI range may be protective in older adults and that the standards for ideal weight (BMI of 18.5 to 25) may be too restrictive in the elderly. A lower BMI may be considered detrimental to older adults due to association with declining nutrition status, potential pressure ulcers, infection and other complications. A BMI of 19 or less may indicate nutritional depletion, while a BMI of 30 or above indicates obesity.

In the literature, there is a lot of conversation about a BMI of 21-23 (rather than 18/19) as considered on the low side for older adults. At the same time, there is a lot of conversation about the “obesity paradox” saying a higher BMI might be protective against some diseases and death. There is still a lot of controversy regarding the efficacy of BMI for older adults, regardless of what is considered “too low” or “too high”.

To our knowledge, there are no firm recommendations from any source on BMI cutoffs for older adults. The MDS triggers a CAA if BMI is < 18.5, although as stated above a higher BMI can probably be considered too low for older adults.

In clinical practice, the BMI number is not as important as how it compares to an individual’s history. Monitoring changes over time is what is important.

If state surveyors question whether everyone with a low BMI needs an intervention, consider explaining that if a low BMI was normal for this person’s life history, then we would not attempt to correct it - although interventions might be put in place for other reasons (poor intake, weight loss, wounds, etc.). And for an older person with a high BMI of 35 who had been overweight their whole life, it is highly likely that lifestyle and habits are set and weight loss would probably not be necessary or successful in older age.

The new Academy/ASPEN criteria for diagnosing malnutrition does not use BMI – it uses unintended weight loss, body fat, muscle mass loss (as determined by nutrition focused physical assessment and/or handgrip strength in the case of severe malnutrition) and other factors. The National Quality Forum Measure #128 (NWF 0421) Preventive Care and Screening uses >23 and

About the Author: Becky Dorner, RDN, LD, FAND is widely-known as one of the nation's leading experts on nutrition and long-term health care. Her company, Becky Dorner & Associates, Inc. (BDA) is a trusted source of valuable resources dedicated to improving quality of life for older adults. For valuable resources for healthcare professionals, sign up for a free membership at http://www.BeckyDorner.com. This article was originally published at http://blog.beckydorner.com/2016/01/the-great-bmi-debate.html and has been syndicated with permission.

Source: www.isnare.com
Permanent Link: https://www.isnare.com/?aid=1946822&ca=Wellness%2C+Fitness+and+Diet


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

The comments to this entry are closed.