Why BMI Isn’t A Good Way To Measure Health ?

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The number you see on the scale doesn’t tell you how healthy your body is.

When you go to the doctor, they usually weigh you. Many doctors use the Body Mass Index (BMI) to assess your health. BMI is calculated based on your weight and height. Some doctors rely on BMI to determine if you’re healthy or not. However, it has been discovered that BMI doesn’t truly reflect your overall health.


When your weight and height are measured, they are divided to determine which category you fall into: ‘underweight’, ‘normal’, ‘overweight’, or ‘obese’. While a high BMI is associated with certain health problems, there is no scientific evidence proving that one directly causes the other. It is possible to be overweight and healthy or thin and unhealthy. The two factors are not necessarily connected.

Paula Brochu, an associate professor at Nova Southeastern University who studies weight stigma, explains that a large study found nearly half of overweight people and about one-third of obese people were metabolically healthy. This suggests that approximately 75 million adults in the U.S. may have their health misclassified based on BMI.

BMI does not take into account a person’s body type, which is determined by genetics. Having a high BMI does not necessarily mean a higher risk of death. Surprisingly, studies show that overweight individuals have a lower mortality risk compared to those with a ‘normal’ weight, and obese individuals have similar mortality risks as those with a ‘normal’ weight.


Unfortunately, the current healthcare system still relies on BMI categories to evaluate people’s health. As a result, individuals may be denied necessary treatments solely based on their weight. This can lead to misdiagnosis and discourages those who are classified as ‘overweight’ or ‘obese’ from seeking further help. For instance, a doctor might attribute knee pain to weight and prescribe weight loss as the only treatment without conducting additional tests, while someone with a ‘normal’ weight would likely receive more thorough examination and appropriate treatment.

The Guardian reports that many overweight individuals are speaking up about being misdiagnosed due to their weight, highlighting the potential life-threatening consequences of relying solely on BMI as a measure of health.


BMI continues to be used by healthcare professionals because it provides a quick and easy way to assess a person’s ‘health’. Since it has been in use since the 1800s, it has become deeply ingrained in the healthcare system. However, more professionals are moving away from this system. Brochu suggests that shifting the focus from weight loss to overall health would be more beneficial for patients of all sizes. It is important to prioritize health rather than just weight, as an exclusive focus on weight loss can often lead to harm.


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