A new study came to the conclusion that body mass index (BMI) is a really crude and terrible indicator of someone’s health. This means that almost 54 million Americans are currently mislabel as overweight or obese when they are in fact, healthy.

The study analyzed data from 40,420 americans who participated in the 2005-2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. They studied the individual’s blood pressure, triglycerides, cholesterol, glucose, insulin resistance and C-reactive protein data, which are linked to heart disease and inflammation, among other problems.

Photo: Telegraph UK
Photo: Telegraph UK

47.4 percent of the Americans labeled as overweight and 29 percent of the labeled as obese people were, from a metabolic point of view, healthy, according to the researchers. On the other hand, they also found that more than 30 percent of individuals with normal BMI were metabolically unhealthy.

The team showed that using BMI as the primary indicator of a person’s health means that 74.9 million adults in the States are being miscategorized as healthy or unhealthy. They encourage policymakers to consider the unintended consequences of relying solely on BMI and researchers to seek for better diagnostic tools related to weight and cardiometabolic health.

Often medical workers calculate the BMI by dividing the patient’s weight by the square of the person’s height, and with the result they conclude whether the persons is healthy, overweight, or obese.

“The reason I think people rely on BMI is because it is easy; if you know someone’s weight and you know someone’s height, then out pops this magical number,” said lead author A. Janet Tomiyama, a psychologist at UCLA.

Tomiyama added that getting blood pressure is “pretty easy too”. He said that focusing on better health markers like blood pressure is a better way to know if a person is really healthy or not.

Source: Los Angeles Times