BMI Says You're Not Obese? Well, You Might Be Anyway

New study suggests new, pricier procedure to determine obesity
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 3, 2012 1:15 PM CDT
BMI Says You're Not Obese? Well, You Might Be Anyway
You may be obese even if your BMI says you're not, a new study finds.   (Shutterstock)

Feeling pretty good about yourself because, according to your BMI, you're not obese? Well, a new study finds that you may have reason to worry after all: Researchers used a new, and supposedly more accurate, standard for detecting obesity—a person's ratio of fat to lean muscle mass—and found that under that standard, a lot more people end up in the "obese" column. Specifically, about half of women and 20% of men may actually be obese, despite the fact that their BMI doesn't classify them as so, the Los Angeles Times reports. The researchers believe their standard will better predict future health issues, but the test it relies on (called a DXA scan) currently costs $300 a pop to run.

In an interview, one of the study authors referred to BMI—which has been used for 180 years—as "the baloney mass index." It has certainly been under fire recently, with researchers proposing other alternative measurements like waist circumference, hip circumference, and waist-to-hip ratio. But don't throw out the BMI too quickly, some warn. Yes, "we do need better measures," says one doctor, but BMI has been linked to Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancers, and other problems—research that can't be discounted. (More body mass index stories.)

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