The Checkup: Is BMI BS?

A new study found that the body-mass index misclassifies lots of people as "healthy" who are actually obese.

• First we’re told that the numbers on the scale don’t necessarily mean anything—that muscle weighs more than fat, and what really matters is a person’s body-mass index, or BMI, the age-old formula that calculates body fat based on a person’s height and weight. That’s supposed to give us a much clearer picture of our health … right? Now, researchers aren’t so sure. A team in New York set out to test the veracity of BMI by recalculating subjects’ level of obesity with new tools. They used a diagnostic test called DEXA, which measures body fat as well as muscle mass and bone density, and employed fat-composition standards used by the American Society for Bariatric Physicians. Their findings? That half of women whose BMIs couched them as simply overweight were actually dangerously obese; it was especially true for women over 50. For men, 20 percent were misclassified by BMI standards. I’m sure you’ve deduced this by now, but what this means is that our obesity rate—which currently sits at about 1 in 3 Americans—may actually be higher than anyone realized. Oy. Read more about the study over on the LA Times.

• Ok, time for something lighthearted: Dartmouth College renamed its medical school after Dr. Seuss. Now I hope they change their mascot to the Cat in the Hat.

• And just for kicks (and swoons), here’s David Beckham’s new commercial for Burger King’s all-fruit smoothies. You’re welcome.