Challenges in obtaining accurate anthropometric measures for adults with severe obesity: a community-based study

Williamson, K. , Blane, D. N. and Lean, M. E.J. (2022) Challenges in obtaining accurate anthropometric measures for adults with severe obesity: a community-based study. Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, (doi: 10.1177/14034948221089111) (PMID:35491931) (Early Online Publication)

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Aims: The number of people with severe obesity (BMI ⩾40 kg/m2) is increasing rapidly, but is poorly documented, partly as a result of inappropriate standard anthropometric measurement methods for community-based people. Methods: As part of a broader study, people receiving care services and with severe obesity were visited at home. The people were assessed for measurements using different weighing scales and a standard portable stadiometer. If the stadiometer could not be used, their half arm span and knee height were measured to estimate their height using standard predictive equations. Results: Measurements were taken for 15 women and 10 men (n = 25) aged 40–87 years (mean 62 years). Weights ranged from 98.4 to 211.8 kg (mean 150 kg), with 16 participants requiring bariatric scales. For the six people who were unable to stand, we used wheelchair scales (n = 1), bed weighing scales (n = 2), routine weights from care home records (n = 2) or weight data from hospital records (n = 1). The standard portable stadiometer could only be used for one person; the others required alternative measures from which to estimate height. Large body habitus obscured bony landmarks, meaning alternative measures gave diverse heights. Fourteen participants had a ⩾8 cm difference in height between estimates from half arm span and knee height measurements. Conclusions: Standard practice commonly does not provide reliable measurements for people with severe obesity, particularly those with mobility difficulties. An inability to measure weight and height accurately can exclude people from appropriate care, obscuring the true numbers affected and the effectiveness of future service planning. Safe community care requires the availability of specialist scales and standardised methods for height estimation appropriate for older and disabled people with severe obesity.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:Kath Williamson was supported by an NHS Research Scotland Career Researcher Clinician award, an NHS Lothian Research Futures Award and an All Saints Educational Trust Corporate Award to the University of Glasgow.
Status:Early Online Publication
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Lean, Professor Michael and Blane, Dr David and Williamson, Kath
Authors: Williamson, K., Blane, D. N., and Lean, M. E.J.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Health & Wellbeing > General Practice and Primary Care
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Medicine, Dentistry & Nursing
Journal Name:Scandinavian Journal of Public Health
Publisher:SAGE Publications
ISSN (Online):1651-1905
Published Online:01 May 2022
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2022 The Authors
First Published:First published in Scandinavian Journal of Public Health 2022
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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