BMI is Not an Accurate Measure of Obesity!

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Healthy people are being misdiagnosed as obese. Urge the CDC to stop utilizing the BMI to measure body fat!


Obesity rates in America are rapidly climbing. As of 2014, more than 37% of adults are categorized as obese– an increase of nearly 3% since 2006.

To determine obesity rates, the CDC continues to utilize an unreliable, 200-year-old method called the Body Mass Index, or BMI. The value relies strictly upon height and weight to measure the amount of body fat a person has. This number is then used to determine which of the following categories an individual falls into: underweight, normal weight, overweight, or obese.

This is problematic because it fails to take into account the ratio of fat to muscle, as well as the bone structure of an individual. For example, calculating body mass this way means that professional basketball player, LeBron James, who is 6'8", 249 lbs. would have a BMI of 27.4, thus classifying him as overweight.

Relying solely upon this method for determining obesity means that people are being misdiagnosed, and vital medical statistics are rendered inaccurate. In fact, according to FiveThirtyEight, 47% of people were classified as overweight when relying upon BMI. However, 29% of those who qualified as obese were actually considered healthy when using other metrics.

The true injustice of continuing to use BMI as an indicator of obesity is that, under the Affordable Care Act, employers medically screening their workforce are able to penalize their employees for being obese, as insurance premiums are actually allowed to increase.

Despite glaring problems with this method, the CDC continues to rely upon the BMI. We must urge them to do away with this outdated tool, and call for physical fitness to be measured by something much more accurate and reflective of the medical progress that has been made in the last 200 years.

Sign the petition below to urge the CDC to stop using the Body Mass Index as a measure of physical fitness.

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The Petition:

To Thomas R. Frieden, Director of U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

I am writing to urge you to develop and implement a better method for measuring physical fitness than the Body Mass Indicator (BMI).

Obesity rates appear to be climbing, and as of 2014, nearly 38% of American adults fell into this category. These statistics are based on values yielded by the BMI. Because the BMI does not account for the dimensionality of the human body it is an unreliable indicator of body fat.

This means that individuals are being falsely categorized as obese.

Relying solely upon this method for determining obesity means that people are being misdiagnosed, and vital medical statistics are rendered inaccurate. In fact, according to FiveThirtyEight, 47% of people were classified as overweight when relying upon BMI. However, 29% of those who qualified as obese were actually considered healthy when using other metrics.

This is unacceptable. And it's not without severe consequences.

The true injustice of continuing to use BMI as an indicator of obesity is that, under the Affordable Care Act, employers medically screening their workforce are able to penalize their employees for being obese, as insurance premiums are actually allowed to increase.

Director, I urge you to stop utilizing the Body Mass Index to determine obesity rates, as it is inaccurate and outdated. Further, please develop and implement a method that accurately accounts for the many factors that contribute to physical fitness. We deserve to have an informed picture of our health, both as individuals and a nation.

Sincerely,

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