Finally, people are starting to recognize that the BMI (Body Mass Index) scale is an imperfect predictor of health risk as it relates to obesity. Yes, in the very broadest sense it works for whole populations, but it seems to break down when it comes to being a good predictor of an individual’s risk for obesity-related diseases.
A recent analysis of the topic can be found in an article by two University of Pennsylvania researchers. They argue convincingly that we need to know a lot more than just BMI to be able to predict a person’s future risk of diseases related to obesity and metabolism with any degree of accuracy. The researchers point out that earlier research (by Flegal et al.) shows that being slightly obese is actually protective in some individuals. Furthermore some individuals with normal BMIs are actually at high risk for obesity-related diseases because they are “metabolically unhealthy”.
You can’t pull up the article in Science magazine online without a username and password, so I’m passing the URL for the article on to you here. The article can also be found in the Aug. 23 hardcopy issue of Science.