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Wednesday, December 6th 2006

A "Growing" Trend

My BMI Is Wrong!

How appropriate is the Body Mass Index in defining someone as overweight? Not very.

[BMI's] downfall is that it does not take into account body composition – whether or not excess weight is fat or muscle – which is why fit people often find themselves in the fat category of the BMI rating system. Among those leading the call for the BMI to be replaced is Dr Margaret Ashwell, a visiting research fellow in nutrition at Oxford Brookes University and a former member of the government’s Food Advisory Committee. “The important thing to consider is how body fat is distributed around the body, as the real problems occur when fat accumulates in the central abdominal region,” Ashwell says.

Now scientists from the renowned Mayo Clinic in Rochester are questioning the accuracy and usefulness of the BMI. Reviewing data from 40 studies involving 250,000 people with heart disease, they found that while severely obese patients had a higher risk of death, overweight people had fewer heart problems than those with a normal BMI.

Because muscle weighs more than fat, many physically fit people are mistakenly classified as “overweight”, while they are actually less likely to die young than a “normal” weight individual whose excess weight is mostly fat.

Instead, according to some quote physicians and nutritionists, we should be using waist circumference. This questioning of the BMI as a useful measurement is a “growing” trend.

Remember (probably not), last year when the CDC redefined their mortality figures for obesity after a Science article and others criticized them. Part of the criticism was the use of BMI in defining obesity.

If you know your height and weight, you can figure out your BMI here. But I’ve warned you…your body type can throw off the whole calculation…