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It’s Time to Rethink the BMI Test

It’s Time to Rethink the BMI Test
April 25
05:49 2016

A person’s BMI, or body mass index, has long been considered a way to measure whether someone is healthy or not. Because of this, many employers have started to incorporate this test into their workplace wellness programs, judging employees based on how this test ranks them.

However, new reports show that this test could be unfairly penalizing millions of Americans as doctors now believe the test should be used as a preliminary screening tool.

To take a look at how this test could lead to unfair treatment in the workplace, look at the case of pro athletes. Although these individuals are in incredible shape, by the standards of the BMI test, many of them fall into unhealthy categories because of their muscle mass.

The International Journey of Obesity did a study of over 40,000 people and found that pro athletes aren’t the only ones who are incorrectly labeled by the BMI test. Over 47% of people considered overweight and 30% of those considered obese were healthy by other standards including blood pressure, cholesterol and insulin resistance.

The Affordable Care Act allows employers to charge employees up to 30% of health care costs if the employee has certain conditions, including obesity as determined by the BMI test.

Janet Tomiyama, a health psychologist at the University of California, Los Angeles stated, “We’re finding a lot of people who are overweight or obese by BMI, 54 million Americans, who are healthy. They would be penalized unfairly.”

Tomiyama believes that the focus of the employers is on the wrong area, saying “We have this laser focus on weight, when this measure of body size doesn’t get under the skin of what healthy markers are. We need to focus on actual health markers, rather than this outdated, very broad measure called BMI.”

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Mina Sinai

Mina Sinai

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