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As a result of a new study conducted, scientists are finally admitting that body mass index, or BMI, may not be all that accurate in measuring the amount of fat in a person’s body.

While many people in the dieting world have long questioned the truthfulness behind the calculations, thanks to a research team from Michigan State Univeristy and Saginaw Valley State University those feelings of distrust are now validated. The findings are published in the March issue of Medicine and Science in Sports and Medicine.

The study involved more than 400 college students, some of whom were athletes. The scientists measured their BMI and body fat percentage. The conclusion was clear that “the student’s BMI did not accurately reflect his or her percentage of body fat.”

The main argument against using the BMI index to determine if a person is overweight or obese, is that the same criteria is used across the board for everyone. It doesn’t matter if you are an NFL player or an 80 year old man. The index also does not take into account the difference between muscle mass and body fat. Bottom line, it just doesn’t say how fat a person actually is.

A high BMI is thought to raise a persons risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other weight related problems. Even though the scientists concluded the measure is not accurate in calculating body fat, the jury is still out on whether or not this still holds true.

The scientists wonder that if you take fat out of the equation if the BMI could still be used in caring for ones health. Should a person with a BMI of 28 in their 20’s be considered overweight if they have significant muscle mass? Many athletes have large BMI’s but are not obese. Their large muscle mass is what tips the scale. The scientists suggest perhaps using classifications for different people/age groups to determine what a person’s BMI actually means.

Read the original article here: BMI not an accurate indicator News

@ 11:54am ET on March 9, 2007
The inaccuracy of BMI calculations as a measure of body fat in athletic people has been known for a while now. Most BMI calculators will note that very muscular people will have a higher BMI. It's obvious that the higher density of muscle creates a heavier body weight even without much fat, and the usual BMI calculation doesn't account for that. Body fat percentage testing is much more appropriate as a measure for active people.

@ 12:25pm ET on March 9, 2007
The US Government selection for BMI calcualtion, was chosen to make the largest number of people possible, to appear obese. There are over 100 different calculations for BMI. Ask yourself, how can one be better than another for every body?

@ 12:42pm ET on March 9, 2007
I agree! It's about time professionals admitted their little calculation to determine who is and is not fat gets the toss... but it will be interesting to see if people who have a high BMI, high muscle mass but low body fat still have the same risks as people who have the same BMI but more body fat than muscle...

@ 1:40pm ET on March 9, 2007
LOL Something that measures nothing might be useful in determining who gets heart desease and diabetes? I remember when "they" said that people with connected earlobes were much more likely to die from heart attacks than those with disconnected earlobes! Or how about margerine is better for you than butter? I could go on and on. . . . . . .

@ 1:48pm ET on March 9, 2007
Most sensible physicians can tell how healthy someone's weight is simply by looking at them and asking a few quick questions about their lifestyle. Active people with lower body fat tend to be healthier than sendentary people with high body fat or skinny, inactive people. Like most things in life, moderation is the key. Oh, and people with lower body fat percentages have been shown to have lower risks of heart disease etc, even with higher BMI numbers. Athletes have known to ignore the standard BMI ratings for a long time, and most sensible coaches and trainers use body fat percentage instead. Also, the hip-waist ratio is a really good predictor. The bigger your belly, the higher your risk.

@ 1:55pm ET on March 9, 2007
LOL, steff! I just pictured some guy being wheeled into emergency bypass surgery: "But I can't have a heart attack! Look at my earlobes!"

@ 3:24pm ET on March 9, 2007
I've known for quite a while that the BMI isn't accurate for athletes, but let's face it, most people aren't athletes! It's still a quick, handy equation for helping those new to diet & exercise pick a reasonable long-term weight goal. I thin it's pretty safe to say if you are new to exercise, you probably don't have a terribly athletic build! "What you weighed in high school" or "when you got married" isn't always a reasonable/healthy goal. So, it's nice to have an equation you can do without calipers or a dunk tank to give them some guidelines, especially when helping people via the internet.

@ 4:21pm ET on March 9, 2007
The problem isn't that it is or isn't a useful tool, the problem is that people are being discriminated against based on a tool that doesn't actually measure anything. If you sell based on BMI, athletes (of which Bird and I are both one) have to pay higher rates on an arbitrary number, that's discrimination. If I don't get a job (which is already happening to firefighters and police officers) based on an arbitrary number, the US government BMI calculation, it IS a problem. IF your BMI is too high and you have health insurance purchased by the employer and your BMI goes too high, what happens then? Do you get to keep your new job when the company doctor decides your BMI is too high and you are too much of a risk? Most companies have a probationary period, you want your BMI to be the cause of losing a job because you work out?

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