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BMI Alone Does Not Accurately Determine A Person’s Health

February 24, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
A study by researchers at UCLA finds that body mass index (BMI) by itself is a highly inaccurate way to determine whether people are healthy or unhealthy. In fact, BMI incorrectly categorizes millions of so-called “obese” people as unhealthy. BMI, a ratio of a person’s height and weight, is often used by employers to determine health care costs, and could soon be used to mandate higher health insurance premiums. For the study based on national data, scientists linked BMI with other health indicators, including blood pressure and glucose, cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Nearly half of Americans considered "overweight" because of their BMIs (47.4 percent, or 34.4 million people) were actually healthy, as were 19.8 million who are considered "obese." Lastly, nearly a third of those with “normal” BMIs – about 20.7 million people – were unhealthy based on other health data.
A. J. Tomiyama et al., "Misclassification of cardiometabolic health when using body mass index categories in NHANES 2005–2012. ", International Journal of Obesity, February 24, 2016, © Macmillan Publishers Limited
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