BMI is an imperfect measure of overall health, doctors say

Bill Grady
September 20, 2018 - 6:34 am

If you're concerned about your weight, just one measurement may not tell the whole story.

BMI, or body mass index, calculates the height and weight for a score that is used to determine whether a person is overweight or underweight. But BMI leaves out a lot of information, said Randy Evans, nutritionist and dietician at the University of Kansas sports medicine program.

"For some reason it's accepted as a way to measure people; I don't know if it ever achieved any acclaim in that regard," Evans said. "We find it to be fairly inaccurate."

Evans prefers an index that calculates a ratio using measurements of the waist and height. Using himself as an example, the athletic, 190-pound Evans said his BMI number lists him as close to overweight, but his body fat percentage of nine percentage is consider very lean. 

Among its many flaws, BMI does not consider muscle, which weighs more than fat. It also does include information about age or location of fat deposits.

But the heavier a person is, the more generally accurate the index, Evans said.

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