BMI System is Defective, Needs to Be Done Away With: Medicos

by Tanya Thomas on Sep 8 2008 9:12 AM

You’ve heard health magazines harping on the BMI correction and dieticians who swear by it! But, there’s a certain group of medical experts who hail this system as highly faulty. They say that Body Mass Index (BMI) system should be scrapped off completely.

The medical experts claim that the popular diagnostic tool to identify obesity problems within a population is "highly flawed and psychologically damaging."

Some of the biggest names in athletics, have BMIs in the "overweight" or even "obese" categories, like Dragons hunk Matt Cooper, every player in NSW's State of Origin squad and Craig Fitzgibbon.

But according to new research, BMI inaccurately label many as overweight or obese, which leads to unnecessary grief and suffering.

It is because BMI does not take into account factors such as body fat, shape, age and muscle mass.

And the inaccuracy in BMI is not only limited to top sports people, for many healthy-sized children and adults have also been branded as being too fat.

Now, professor Richard Telford, a leading Australian scientist at the Commonwealth Institute, is working towards creating a new formula to measure body size called Body Mass Function (BMF) that mot only takes body fat, age and development into account, but also considers height and weight.

In his latest research, Telford claims that BMI "systematically misrepresents" the body compositions of children.

"BMI should be scrapped as a way to measure any individuals. It's a highly flawed measure. Just because it's easy doesn't mean it should be accepted," the Daily Telegraph quoted him, as saying.

Telford claimed that people might suffer damaging effects by learning that they had a high BMI. For instance, he said that children who are tall for their age are often labeled as overweight because of their developing body proportions

"If it's a young child, I think it can do harm. I would hate to see children dieting. Or a man or woman who goes to a gym and is told they are overweight when they are muscular _ that to me is potential psychological damage," he said.

The study is published in the medical journal, Obesity.