Experts criticize BMI as a flawed measure of obesity. What other methods are effective?
New research presented at ENDO 2023 challenges the accuracy of BMI in identifying obesity. The study adds to mounting evidence exposing the limitations of BMI as a measure of obesity. BMI, calculated using height and weight, is commonly used to determine obesity and overweight status. However, experts argue that relying solely on BMI fails to capture the complexities of excess fat in the body. Nonetheless, BMI continues to be widely employed by medical professionals to assess risks of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and eligibility for anti-obesity treatments and surgeries.
New research reveals that BMI fails to accurately identify cases of obesity. The study analyzed data from nearly 10,000 American adults between 2011 and 2018 and found that approximately 36% of participants were classified as obese based on their BMI. However, when using an alternative measure, such as body fat percentage, the obesity rate jumped to 74%. It’s important to note that the study has not yet undergone peer review.
Dr. Aayush Visaria, the lead researcher from Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, emphasizes that the prevalence of obesity is greatly underestimated when relying solely on BMI. Many individuals with a normal BMI actually have obesity.
Recognizing the limitations of BMI, the American Medical Association is taking steps to move away from its sole reliance on this measure to assess health and obesity. They now advise healthcare professionals to consider additional factors such as body fat distribution, waist circumference, and the proportion of weight derived from fat when assessing obesity.