Watch CBS News

UC Researchers: Body Mass Index Wrongly Labels Millions As Obese

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) -- Body Mass Index, or BMI, has long been considered a way of determining good health. There is new evidence from University of California researchers that the number may be completely useless.

"As far as I can tell, it doesn't really have any important or significant use. Ultimately at this point, it's doing more harm than good," UCSB researcher Jeffrey Hunger told KCBS.

BMI is a measure of body fat that is based on one's height or weight. Hunger co-authored his paper on BMI with researchers from UCLA.

"What we see is the BMI miscategorizes millions of American adults," Hunger said.

Hunger and his team looked at BMI's and compared them to patients' actual health markers, things like blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol. They found millions of Americans labeled overweight or obese based on their BMI are in fact perfectly healthy.

"So it's not just harming people that wouldn't necessarily fall into the overweight or obese BMI categories, it's also missing 20 million adults that would be classified as healthy or normal weight. They are sort of flying under the radar," Hunger explained. "They could be at risk for delayed or misdiagnosis altogether."

Hunger said we need to take the focus off weight and instead, concentrate on things that contribute to good health like eating well, staying active and getting enough sleep.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.