News: Is the Body Mass Index flawed?

When’s the last time you calculated your body mass index (BMI)? Do you fret over your BMI rating as much

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When’s the last time you calculated your body mass index (BMI)? Do you fret over your BMI rating as much as the number staring back at you on the scale? It might be time to let go of that anxiety’experts in the field of obesity research are now suggesting that the BMI is not only flawed, but that another measurement system would be a more accurate indication of body fat and health risks, reports The Globe and Mail.

The problem with the BMI scale’which is used by healthcare providers as a screening tool to determine whether a person is in a "normal" weight range, overweight or obese’is that it only takes into account the person’s weight and height. While it’s been used for the past 200 years, the BMI formula has its limitations; there is no way to factor in information such as muscle mass, body type, ethnicity or genetics. But a new study by researchers at the University of Southern California aims to change that, with the use of a new scale, called the body adipose index (BAI).

Published in the journal Obesity, the study describes the BMI as having "limited accuracy," and suggests that the BAI, which compares hip circumference and height, "can be used to reflect [the percentage of] body fat for adult men and women of differing ethnicities without numerical correction."

The team at USC isn’t the first to suggset an alternative to the BMI scale. In May 2010, a team of researchers from Sweden argued that a waist-to-hip-to-height ratio would also be a more accurate measurement than the traditional BMI. Previous research has explored the links between excess belly fat health complications, such as inflammation and high cholesterol. Whether the BAI should completely replace the BMI remains to be seen, but it can’t hurt to have another option when screening for potential health risks.

Do you pay attention to your BMI? Should the BMI be replaced by this new measurement?

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