Suggested reading: Is B.M.I. a scam?

by Alice Callahan

There are few single measures in health care that seem to carry as much weight as body mass index, or B.M.I. We encounter it not just at doctor’s offices, but with online calculators and smart scales, at gyms and even when determining eligibility for the Covid vaccine.

Its formula is simple: Take your weight (in kilograms), and divide by the square of your height (in meters). The result, which slots you into one of four main categories, is meant to describe your body in a single word or two: underweight (B.M.I. less than 18.5), normal weight (18.5 to 24.9), overweight (25.0 to 29.9) or obese (30 or greater).

Many feel judged by these categories, given that only about a quarter of adults in the United States can call themselves “normal” on the B.M.I. scale. But after talking with an epidemiologist, two obesity medicine physicians, a health psychologist and a sociologist, none claimed that B.M.I. was a very useful measure of a person’s health. And, in fact, some said they would indeed call it a scam. … (continue at The New York Times)

Published by Massimo

Massimo is the K.D. Irani Professor of Philosophy at the City College of New York. He blogs at and He is the author of How to Be a Stoic: Using Ancient Philosophy to Live a Modern Life.

One thought on “Suggested reading: Is B.M.I. a scam?

  1. I know that many professional athletes, because muscle is more dense than fat, “fail” BMIs. I had often thought of it as incomplete as best and as a kind of lazy tool by the insurance industry. Hadn’t considered “scam” but that may be right.

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