BMI Mislabels 54 Million Americans As ‘Overweight’ or ‘Obese,’ UCLA Study Says

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Good news for some in the high-BMI crowd: A new study from UCLA finds that some 54 million Americans who are labeled as obese or overweight according to their body mass index are, when you take a closer look, actually healthy.

The findings, published in the International Journal of Obesity, reveal that employers could potentially saddle people with unfairly high health insurance costs based on a deeply flawed measure of actual health.

“This should be a final nail in the coffin for BMI,” said lead author A. Janet Tomiyama, a psychologist at UCLA.

Body mass index is calculated by dividing a person’s weight in kilograms by the square of the person’s height in meters. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a “healthy” BMI is 18.5-24.9, an overweight BMI is 25-29.9 and an obese BMI is 30 or higher. The calculation has been seen as a slightly more nuanced way to measure health than weight alone.

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