The use of Body Mass Index to assess a person's health has led to millions of people incorrec"> The use of Body Mass Index to assess a person's health has led to millions of people incorrec"> The use of Body Mass Index to assess a person's health has led to millions of people incorrec">

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BMI is a waste of time, say experts
Online Desk |:| Thu, 10 Mar'2016, 11:04 AM |:| Online Version
BMI is a waste of time, say experts
The use of Body Mass Index to assess a person's health has led to millions of people incorrectly being labelled overweight or obese, researchers claim.
The measurement has been used by doctors for more than 150 years, but has come under increasing criticism for being a flawed marker of health.
BMI is worked out by dividing weight in kilograms by height in metres, and dividing the answer by height again.
Typically, a BMI below 18.5 is regarded as underweight, 25 or over is 'overweight' and 30 or more is categorised as 'obese'.
A BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered normal.
The measurement is entrenched in healthcare, used for diagnosing conditions such as anorexia - and to calculate life assurance premiums.
It is also key to official guidelines for treatment - for example, who qualifies for gastric surgery on the NHS.
Now, however, Californian researchers claim their research will be will be 'the final nail in the coffin for BMI'.
The study, published in the International Journal of Obesity, analysed the link between BMI and several health markers, including blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol levels.
This revealed almost half of Americans who are labelled 'overweight' by virtue of their BMIs (47.4 per cent, or 34.4 million people) are healthy, as are 19.8 million who are considered 'obese.'
However the analysis also found more than 30 per cent of those with BMIs in the 'normal' range, - about 20.7 million people - are actually unhealthy based on their other health data.
And more than two million people who are considered 'very obese' by virtue of having a BMI of 35 or above are actually healthy.
Psychologist Professor Janet Tomiyama, of the University of California, Los Angeles, said: 'Many people see obesity as a death sentence.
'But the data show there are tens of millions of people who are overweight and obese and are perfectly healthy.'
She said that the findings incorrectly label more than 54million Americans as unhealthy.
In the US, the study also raises questions about the issue of health care costs and raising insurance premiums for those who have piled on the pounds.
Yet many companies are using their employees' BMIs as a factor in determining workers' health care costs.
And people with higher BMIs could soon have to pay higher health insurance premiums in the US, if a rule proposed in April by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is adopted.
Professor Tomiyama said given their health readings other than BMI, the people in both of those groups would be unlikely to incur higher medical expenses, and it would be unfair to charge them more for health care premiums.
In previous research, she found there was no clear link between weight loss and health improvements related to high blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol and blood glucose levels.
But she admitted even she was surprised at the magnitude of the numbers in her latest study.
She said: 'There are healthy people who could be penalised based on a faulty health measure, while the unhealthy people of normal weight will fly under the radar and will not get charged more for their health insurance.
'Employers, policy makers and insurance companies should focus on actual health markers.'
Study co-author Jeffrey Hunger, a doctoral candidate at the University of California, Santa Barbara, added the research showed BMI is a deeply flawed measure of health.
He added: 'This should be the final nail in the coffin for BMI.'
Instead, he recommends people focus on eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly, rather than obsessing about their weight, and strongly opposes stigmatizing people who are overweight.
The proposed EEOC rule would allow employers to charge higher insurance rates to people whose BMI is 25 or higher. Source: Daily Mail 

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