Is BMI Really the Best Indicator?

If you’re focused on your BMI number, researchers at the University of Alberta will tell you that you’re barking up the wrong tree. The researchers say that this information, and the obsessive focus on BMI, doesn’t just hurt people and how they see themselves – it can create the wrong treatment plans from doctors.

Now, while this is a popular way for tracking population trends, Dr. Arya Sharma explains that it has limitations for individuals. Many professional athletes quality as being overweight because of their muscle mass.

As Dr. Sharma explains,

“BMI is a clothing size…It tells me how big you are. It doesn’t tell me how sick you are. BMI is not a good criteria to be diagnosing a disease.”

Dr. Scott Kahan, the director of the National Center for Weight and Wellness told Live Science that, “What any obesity specialist should do is use BMI as a first step, and then go beyond BMI as needed.”
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Dr. Sharma emphasizes that doctors need to move from a BMI-based diagnosis of obesity and health issues to one that is more holistic and health-based.

Dr. Sharma and his colleagues have developed a more appropriate scale, according to them, called the Edmonton Obesity Staging System. With this program, doctors check on the physical health of the patient (looking for diabetes and joint problems for examples), at the mental health of the patient (depression, anxiety, etc) and at the functional health (doing day-to-day activities).


James Fishman has been involved in the world of online magazines for more than 15 years. He helped launch Sunstone Online and continues to improve the magazine as site editor and administrator. His writing focuses primarily business and technology. To be in touch with James, feel free to contact him at james[at]

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