Many people have been there: You go to the doctor’s office, get your blood pressure, height, and weight taken, and the doctor relays the unfortunate news: Your BMI is too high, and you need to lose weight. BMI, or body mass index, has long been used as a way to assess body weight in the United States. The federal government uses the calculation to track obesity rates in the country, and according to this scale, 42.4 percent of American adults age 20 and older are obese, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Adults can measure their BMI by taking their body weight in pounds, dividing that value by their height in inches squared, and multiplying the latter value by 703. Or check out the CDC’s BMI calculator if math isn’t your thing.
If this formula seems complicated and somewhat arbitrary, that’s because it is. And many experts have started to question BMI’s accuracy. BMI is far from perfect, and as the years have passed, more and more science has emerged that reveals the flaws of this approach.
Excerpted from Everyday Health