Should we stop using BMI for obesity?

Compared with BMI’s relatively quick acceptance into clinical practice, obesity has only recently been recognised as a disease. Historically, obesity has been viewed negatively as a lifestyle choice, and the historical bias associated with BMI and discrimination has led some public health officials to dismiss the use of BMI or fail to recognize obesity as disease.

This dangerous conclusion is to the detriment of the very people disproportionately impacted by obesity-related health disparities, while weight bias prevents people living with obesity from receiving insurance coverage for life-enhancing obesity interventions.

Accordingly, argues an article in Medscape, it may be time to phase out BMI, although doing so is complex and will take time. In the interim, if BMI is still used in any capacity, it is suggested that BMI reference charts should be adjusted, based on age, race, ethnicity, biological sex, and obesity-related conditions, while any ‘abnormal’ BMI should initiate conversation and further testing to determine an individual’s health.

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