BMI Says NOTHING About Health, Research Says

BMI, a metric that weighs (couldn’t resist) your height against your weight to determine your “health,” is under fire, yet again.

Researchers who reported their findings in the International Journal of Obesity (I’ll save you the rant on why I even hate that this journal exists), looked at the connection between BMI and cardiometabolic health using data (including blood pressure, triglycerides, cholesterol, glucose, insulin resistance, and inflammation markers) from the most recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

What they found: nearly 50% of Americans with a BMI that categorizes them as “overweight” (or 34.4 million people!), 19.8 million Americans with a BMI that categorizes them as “obese” and 2 million people who are classified as “very obese” are actually super-duper (my words!) healthy according to these cardiometabolic measures. Moreover, over 30% of Americans with an “normal” BMI (over 20 million people) are actually pretty damn (again, my words) unhealthy according to these cardiometabolic measures.

This is problematic for so many reasons:

Fat stigma (which is bullshit).

The focus on a “healthy weight” even being a thing (also bullshit).

Employers who determine healthcare costs based on BMI (f’ed up).

Bottom line: BMI is inaccurate at best and downright dangerous at worst.

While BMI has been the yardstick by which doctors determine a healthy weight, those of us in the wellness community have long seen its flaws: BMI doesn’t account for the differences between muscle and fat weight, doesn’t account for where that fat is carried (studies show that stomach fat, for example, is correlated with health issues more than fat carried elsewhere), and generally fails to account for the fact that (NEWSFLASH!) you weight in NO way determines your health.

Next time someone wants to talk to you about BMI, send them the link to this article (and then tell them to f-off).


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