The body mass index (BMI) may not reflect the accurate amount of fat in a human body, according to new research.
BMI was long considered as the standard for measuring the amount of fat in a person's body. It is defined as the individual's body weight divided by the square of their height.
Generally, a BMI of 25 or above indicates a person is overweight; 30 or above indicates obesity. A person with a higher BMI is thought to be at a greater risk of heart disease, diabetes and other weight-related problems, reported science portal EurekAlert.
Joshua Ode and other researchers from Michigan State University and Saginaw Valley State University measured the BMI of more than 400 college students - some of whom were athletes and some not - and found that in most cases the student's BMI did not accurately reflect his or her percentage of body fat.
The research is published in the March issue of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, the official journal of the American College of Sports Medicine suggests that BMI may not be as accurate as originally thought.
The problem, especially among younger people and athletes, is that BMI does not distinguish between body fat and muscle mass, said Ode.
'BMI should be used cautiously when classifying fatness, especially among college-age people,' said Jim Pivarnik, an MSU professor of kinesiology and epidemiology. 'It really doesn't do a good job of saying how fat a person really is.'