Dr Millicent Stone, Rheumatologist, recently participated in a documentary for BBC radio 4 as part of a selected group of clinicians to discuss the role and shortcomings of assessing body mass index (BMI) as a general measure of health and we'll being.
Dr Stone is an expert in the management of patients who suffer from a condition called the female athlete triad. Total body fat levels are the key to evaluating and treating these patients
Female athlete triad is a condition that arises when a person is in calorific deficit from under eating or sometimes from over exercising and this leads to alterations in the hormonal cycle and consequent impaired bone health. In some cases the bones may fracture. Low fat levels in the organs predispose these patients to increased risk of fracture however, excess fat is associated with risk of heart disease and diabetes. This important fact is discussed in detail in the program.
A careful balance of some, but not too much, fat is required to keep bones healthy, thus accurate measurement is critical. The standard way of measuring BMI is not sufficient in these patients. Dr Stone is interested in total body fat composition studies as a more accurate way of measuring total fat in the body. This is done at The Physicians' Clinic using a dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) scan.