BMI 'isn’t an accurate indicator of health'

30 March 2017

A new report claims the number isn’t actually a clear indicator of a person’s health.

While we’ve long been warned of the dangers of having a high body mass index (BMI), a new report claims the number isn’t actually a clear indicator of a person’s health.

Experts at the University of Alberta insist BMI, the measurements of someone’s body from their weight and height, shouldn’t determine how healthy a person is and they also believe the metric can cause doctors to prescribe incorrect treatment to patients.

BMI, which became a go-to measurement in the 1970s, is deemed healthy if between 18.5 and 24.9, with anything less dubbed underweight, while figures between 25 and 29.9 are overweight and above 30 is obese.

Read more: So you’re overweight. . . What now?

Dr. Arya Sharma, obesity researcher at Canada’s University of Alberta, has explained to Live Science that BMI may come in use to keep up with body weight trends. But he says it has many downfalls, especially in the case of athletes, whose muscle mass may lead them to accidentally being deemed overweight or obese.

The medical expert also noted that those with a BMI of 30 plus may actually be healthy, and he believes size shouldn’t be classified as a disease like obesity is.

Read more: Overweight teenage boys have increased risk of liver disease

“BMI is a clothing size... It tells me how big you are,” Dr. Sharma added. “It doesn't tell me how sick you are. BMI is not a good criteria to be diagnosing a disease.”

Dr. Scott Kahan, director of the National Center for Weight and Wellness, added: “What any obesity specialist should do is use BMI as a first step, and then go beyond BMI as needed.”

Dr. Sharma insisted medical experts should check for physical health problems like diabetes as well as mental health issues and functional health when diagnosing obesity going forward, rather than relying on BMI.

These three aspects are incorporated in the Edmonton Obesity Staging System, which Dr. Sharma and his colleagues have formulated.

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