Comparison of Body Composition Assessed by Dual-Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry and BMI in Current and Former U.S. Navy Service Members.

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Little is known of the diagnostic accuracy of BMI in classifying obesity in active duty military personnel and those that previously served. Thus, the primary objectives were to determine the relationship between lean and fat mass, and body fat percentage (BF%) with BMI, and assess the agreement between BMI and BF% in defining obesity.


Body composition was measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry in 462 males (20-91 years old) who currently or previously served in the U.S. Navy. A BMI of ≥ 30 kg/m2 and a BF% ≥ 25% were used for obesity classification.


The mean BMI (± SD) and BF% were 28.8 ± 4.1 and 28.9 ± 6.6%, respectively, with BF% increasing with age. Lean mass, fat mass, and BF% were significantly correlated with BMI for all age groups. The exact agreement of obesity defined by BMI and BF% was fair (61%), however, 38% were misclassified by a BMI cut-off of 30 when obesity was defined by BF%.


From this data we determined that there is a good correlation between body composition and BMI, and fair agreement between BMI and BF% in classifying obesity in a group of current and former U.S. Navy service members. However, as observed in the general population, a significant proportion of individuals with excess fat are misclassified by BMI cutoffs.





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Gasier, Heath G, Linda M Hughes, Colin R Young and Annely M Richardson (2015). Comparison of Body Composition Assessed by Dual-Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry and BMI in Current and Former U.S. Navy Service Members. PloS one, 10(7). p. e0132157. 10.1371/journal.pone.0132157 Retrieved from

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Heath Gasier

Associate Professor in Anesthesiology

I am a physiologist who joined Duke University in 2019 after retiring from military service. My research has focused on understanding how oxidant stress impacts cellular and systems physiology. Initially, I studied in humans how hyperbaric oxygen (HBO2) within the therapeutic range and high altitude influence nitric oxide production, antioxidant defenses, tissue oxygenation and muscle performance. This work sparked my interest in redox biology and led me to train under Dr. Claude A. Piantadosi at Duke University. Here, I began to study in mice and rats the impact of extreme HBO2 on the central nervous system (CNS). The objectives were to identify in rodents the origin and mechanisms of CNS oxygen toxicity, and test targeted pharmacological intervention strategies. It was during this time that I became interested in heme oxygenase 1 (HO-1). During my final military assignment, I continued to work on HBO2 and CNS oxygen toxicity related research (pharmacological intervention) and initiated new studies examining how HO-1 induction influences musculoskeletal health in diet-induced obesity. These studies led to follow-on work aimed at determining the mechanisms of HO-1 induction and mitochondrial dynamic regulation in an in vitro model of diet-induced obesity. In addition, I was involved in research aimed at understanding how antioxidants influence skeletal muscle mitochondrial dynamics in rodents and cells exposed heat stress and extreme high altitude.

Since returning to Duke University, I continue to conduct research focused on understanding how oxidant stress induced by HBO2 and obesity influences mitochondrial dynamic regulation in the brain, lung and skeletal muscle. I am now studying how sarcopenia and gender influence these responses. I am also involved (Co-I) in research testing the efficacy of a home-based high intensity interval training program in COVID-19 critical illness and early parenteral nutrition in abdominal trauma victims. In both of these studies, my efforts will be directed towards measuring inflammation and mitochondrial quality control responses to the interventions, which are linked to HO-1 activation.

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