US doctors’ group adopts new policy on healthy weight assessment

The American Medical Association says it will advise doctors to pay less attention to body mass index (BMI) in determining if a patient is at a healthy weight, saying the measure does not predict disease risk equally well across racial and ethnic groups.

BMI, a ratio of weight to height, has long been used to define underweight, “normal” weight, overweight, obesity and morbid obesity, despite mounting evidence that it is an inaccurate predictor of health risks on an individual level.

At the group’s annual meeting in Chicago, members voted to adopt a new policy that says BMI should be just one factor in determining whether a patient is at a healthy weight, with other measures such as body composition, belly fat, waist circumference, and genetic factors also regarded as important. Furthermore, the AMA acknowledged that the BMI scale is based primarily on data from white people, while body shape and composition vary among racial and ethnic groups, genders, and age groups.

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