Trash that BMI test. Body mass index, once the gold standard for assessing a person’s weight – and overall longevity – has fallen out of favour for these reasons…
“BMI was created about 200 years ago as a way to estimate obesity,” says cardiologist Dr Leslie Cho. But it doesn’t actually measure the fat on your frame. It’s literally a weight-height ratio, considering no other factors (sex, bone density, ethnicity).
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It confuses fit with fat
Athlete? Have a lot of lean muscle mass? You could still have a BMI that qualifies as overweight or obese, even though you may be in great shape. According to a 2016 study, only 47 percent of people in the overweight BMI category – alongside 29 percent classified as obese – are actually unhealthy.
It can’t fully measure health
On the flip side, the same study also found that more than 30 percent of people with so-called healthy BMIs have too-high blood pressure, cholesterol, inflammation levels or insulin resistance, the hallmark of type-2 diabetes. Those are all better, truer tests of your actual wellness.
A far better gauge of your health?
Waist circumference. It may not consider things like ethnicity either, but excessive abdominal fat is a universal red flag. For women, measurements of 88cm or more (around the top of the hip bones) are consistently linked with an increased risk for chronic disease. And if you want to know your body composition, ask your personal trainer or dietician about a caliper test.