Study questions use of BMI as health measure
A new study questions the use of body mass index (BMI) to predict the effect of obesity on health, saying it ignores important health factors such as how fat is distributed, the ratio of muscle to fat and differences in body composition. The authors call for more accurate and easy-to-use risk assessments.
BMI is a measure of weight in relation to height. According to the American Heart Association, a BMI of less than 25 indicates healthy weight; between 25 and 29.9, overweight; and 30 or higher, obesity. You can determine your BMI using the American Heart Association’s BMI Calculator.
Research has shown higher risk of cardiovascular diseases, Type 2 diabetes and cancer for people with a BMI of 30 or higher. This study discusses the use of BMI in light of the “obesity paradox,” that obesity appears to protect some people against certain diseases.
“BMI is at best a crude biomarker that cannot independently predict risk,” said Robert Eckel, M.D. past president of the American Heart Association. “However, a large majority of people with a BMI of over 30 have at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease other than age. Even more people with a BMI of over 40 have cardiovascular risk factors.”
Lifestyle factors or genetics can both contribute to metabolic health, even in people who are overweight or obese, but this is the exception rather than rule, he said.
Weight is one of the American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple 7 — seven health factors contributing to heart health and cardiovascular disease risk.
Stories available for linking, quoting, excerpting, reprinting
Stories appearing on blog.heart.org under the "By American Heart Association News" byline are available for linking, quoting, excerpting and reprinting. Copyright is owned or held by the American Heart Association, Inc., and all rights are reserved. Permission is granted, at no cost and without need for further request, to link to, quote, excerpt or reprint from these stories in any medium as long as no text is altered and proper attribution is made to the American Heart Association. Additional conditions may apply to the use of these stories in printed materials.
American Heart Association additional conditions for linking, quoting, excerpting, reprinting stories in print media
- A credit line of American Heart Association News must be prominently placed on the page in which the American Heart Association materials appear.
- The American Heart Association logo and service marks may only be used if they appear on the materials requested.
- Stories reprinted may be edited for length, but no other deletions, alterations or other changes may be made without the prior written consent of the American Heart Association.
- Artwork labeled "American Heart Association" may be reprinted, but other artwork may not. For artwork permission questions, contact email@example.com
- Stories reprinted may not be placed adjacent to any advertisement, photo, graphic or other content that could be considered inappropriate by the American Heart Association. For questions about whether content is inappropriate, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Stories may not be displayed in any way that gives the appearance that the American Heart Association endorses (implied or otherwise) or is affiliated with any product, service or company.