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Nutr Today. 2015 May;50(3):117-128. Epub 2015 Apr 7.

Body Mass Index: Obesity, BMI, and Health: A Critical Review.

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is a full professor at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, and chief of the Endocrine, Metabolic and Nutrition Section at the Minneapolis VA Medical Center, Minnesota. His PhD degree is in biochemistry. He has more than 250 scientific publications in peer-reviewed journals, and he is the winner of numerous prestigious academic and scientific awards, including the 2014 Physician/Clinician Award of the American Diabetes Association.


The body mass index (BMI) is the metric currently in use for defining anthropometric height/weight characteristics in adults and for classifying (categorizing) them into groups. The common interpretation is that it represents an index of an individual's fatness. It also is widely used as a risk factor for the development of or the prevalence of several health issues. In addition, it is widely used in determining public health policies.The BMI has been useful in population-based studies by virtue of its wide acceptance in defining specific categories of body mass as a health issue. However, it is increasingly clear that BMI is a rather poor indicator of percent of body fat. Importantly, the BMI also does not capture information on the mass of fat in different body sites. The latter is related not only to untoward health issues but to social issues as well. Lastly, current evidence indicates there is a wide range of BMIs over which mortality risk is modest, and this is age related. All of these issues are discussed in this brief review.

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