Using BMI to assess people’s health is misleading. The results of one study conducted by researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles pinpoint the need to rethink the association between BMI measurements and overall health.
For too long a time, body mass index (BMI) has been the golden standard for assessing people’s health. We’re used to reading about body mass index in association with the obesity epidemic or any other health related topics. Nonetheless, using BMI to classify people as overweight or obese and think of these two categories as unhealthy by default is a grave misconception.
The study features in the International Journal of Obesity. The research team’s findings underline how using BMI to assess people’s health is misleading.
The data retrieved from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey conducted by the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) was used to study the link between higher than normal BMIs and other health indicators. The team led by Janet Tomiyama looked at the link between BMI and glucose blood levels, blood pressure levels, cholesterol or triglyceride blood levels.
According to the research team, there are 54 million Americans who have higher than normal BMIs and are thus considered unhealthy. This simple mishap has the power to increase healthcare premiums as well as other health related costs. Doctor Tomiyama declared that the data clearly shows there is a high number of people who can be both obese or overweight and who will be perfectly healthy.
Analyzing the correlation between BMI measurements and other health indicators, the team discovered a surprising fact. 19 million people whose BMI indicates they’re obese are metabolically healthy. So are approximately half of the people who are considered overweight according to their BMI. A normal BMI is considered to be between 18.5 and 24.9 according to the CDC.
Furthermore, Janet Tomiyama’s team found that 30 percent of those who had a normal BMI and are generally considered healthy are in fact metabolically unhealthy. Over 75 million Americans are wrongly labeled as metabolically healthy or metabolically unhealthy based on BMI measurements. Using BMI to assess people’s health is misleading.
“There are healthy people who could be penalized based on a faulty health measure, while the unhealthy people of normal weight will fly under the radar and won’t get charged more for their health insurance.”
The statement was made by Doctor Tomiyama who added that simply losing some pounds will not work wonders for a person’s overall health. While striving to reach a normal BMI, other health indicators are left behind.
The study was prompted as the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission could allow employers to start charging employees 30 percent extra for health insurance provided they do not meet health criteria. A slightly more than normal BMI can draw such a consequence despite the person being perfectly healthy otherwise.