He Body mass index (BMI), an index that relates our weight to our height, is the current criterion used to classify our weight into “underweight”, “normal weight”, “overweight” and “obese”, both in the scientific literature and in popular discourse and in the media.
But… Is BMI a measure? health empirical and objective, or is it an arbitrary and subjective label that categorizes a population enforcing a stigmatizing social construction of what is “normal” and what is not, what is “healthy” and what is “unhealthy”?
What is the origin of BMI?
This index was conceptualized Adolf Queteletastronomer, mathematician, and sociologist in 1842, whose goal had nothing to do with health problems, but rather to identify the physical dimensions of the “average person” and to find out how they are statistically distributed among the population.
Curiously, it was not until 130 years later that the scientific community first used it index, because in 1972 the physician and epidemiologist Ancel Keys established it as an adequate indicator for determining the body composition of the population. Since then, BMI has used more than 150,000 articles in major scientific journals in its studies.
What are the BMI limitations?
Despite the fact that virtually all research related to health and mass use BMI, there is broad agreement in the medical literature that BMI has graves shortcomings and limitations. Between them:
- It doesn’t matter where the weight comes from as long as it’s free weight Thicksuch as muscle and bone or fat mass.
- Does not take fat distribution into account corporal
- It is not accurate in humans height very high or very low
- It does not take into account the differences between racing
- It does not take into account the differences between sex
- It does not take age differences into account
Is BMI an indicator of health and disease?
On a social level and system healthstigma fat bodies as diseased bodies by favoring narratives of individual guilt and responsibility over scientific research on health and weight.
However, growing research suggests that many people considered “unhealthy” based on their BMI are enjoying health cardiometabolic favorable.
Therefore, the concern with using BMI is not so much the limitations it has when calculating BMI body composition accurate in all cases, but problems arise when BMI is used to promote weight-related health messages.
There are many investigations that find discrepancies in this regard. For example in this: 50% of people who were “overweight” according to BMI, 29% of people who were “obese” and even 16% people with obesity considered type II and III were metabolically healthy people. However, more than 30% of people considered “normal weight” were not people with cardiovascular health.
The results of several researches like this challenge the category of “overweight” according to BMI, because they exist little evidence that there is an increased risk of mortality in this group compared to the “normal weight” group.
On the other hand, this meta-analysis compared the effectiveness of different tools to predict risk factors. cardiovascular and concluded that BMI was the worst tool for this purpose.
Despite all this, BMI continues to be a tool used as a reference to classify the population based on their weight, which is reinforcing stigma in those who deviate from the regulations, who are considered to have a diseased body. It is urgent to stop focusing on weight and put it on the scale habits and what leads to them, regardless of the weight it carries.
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