Why BMI Is Not an Accurate Measure of Your Health

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Focusing on preventive health is an effective strategy for minimizing costs in healthcare and reducing the impact of chronic and critical conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. In the pursuit of more comprehensive preventive care, doctors have begun implementing a number of regular screenings in primary care practices. One key figure that doctors examine to determine a patient’s health is his or her BMI, but recent research has indicated that this is not a smart strategy.

BMI, or body mass index, can be a significant number when it comes to classifying someone as overweight, obese, or within a healthy weight range. What this figure does not reflect is the fact that obese individuals can be perfectly healthy while carrying extra weight. Read on to discover the flaws with BMI and the more telling numbers that you should know for your health.

Misconceptions about obesity

There is a widespread belief that obese individuals are overall less healthy than individuals in a normal weight range. While obesity does have many distinct health risks, it is not an entirely accurate indicator of a person’s health. In fact, nearly 50 million American individuals who are obese have been misdiagnosed as unhealthy. At the same time, there is a significant percentage of normal weight individuals who are metabolically unhealthy—about 30%. About half of overweight people and 29% of obese people would also be considered metabolically unhealthy.

Poor classification of American health

As it becomes clearer that poor metabolic health is not directly correlated with weight and BMI, it is important to know what figures you should be paying attention to for an accurate assessment of health. These numbers include a person’s insulin resistance, blood pressure, triglycerides, cholesterol, and glucose. These health markers provide a much clearer picture of an individual’s risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and a wide range of other serious conditions.

Problems with BMI

Keep in mind that BMI is just an estimate of body fat, and does have its limits – in fact, it may actually overestimate body fat in athletes and those who have a muscular build. That being said, BMI does achieve a more accurate determination of whether or not someone is obese than weight alone, but this classification has proven to be an ineffective measure of health risks. Unfortunately, healthcare policymakers rely heavily on BMI as a determiner of baseline costs for health insurance, so individuals who are perfectly healthy might suffer a higher cost.

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