What is the body mass index (BMI)?
The BMI is a ratio of weight-to-height. BMI is calculated as weight in kilograms divided by height in metres squared. BMI is also a commonly used as a method of classifying body weight and identifying people with excessive body fat.
What is the issue with BMI?
Researchers find BMI is unreliable and can lead to misdiagnosis or mistreatment. For example, the BMI does not recognize culturally diverse bodies and varied presentations of body weight including gender differences. The BMI system may underestimate or overestimate health risks in certain adults who are highly muscular, or adults who naturally have a very lean body build, young adults who have not reached full growth, and adults over 65 years of age. (Health Canada)
At the May 2023 Dietitians of Canada Conference the opening keynote speaker addressed ‘Weight-Inclusive Care’. Their recommendation was to stop using BMI as a criterion in nutrition assessments and diagnosis. The American Medical Association (AMA) resolution published in 2023 also supports the removal of BMI as a stand alone measure in medicine. (AMA June 14, 2023) Healthcare professionals, including dietitians are rethinking the way they care for patients. Consensus is that BMI should not be used as a tool to evaluate health. Weight inclusive dietitians focus on the health issues rather than body size.
Here is the link to the media coverage featuring health care experts on BMI.
- Using BMI to assess your health can be misleading, experts warn. CBC News, July 2023, ( 2 min) https://www.cbc.ca/player/play/2242360899522
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