PBS's "Next Avenue" looks into what it means to be at a healthy weight — the figure at which we feel strong, energetic, like our best self. Though widely-used, Body Mass Index [BMI], is not a perfect way to measure the link between weight and health, says Rexford S. Ahima, MD, PhD, professor of Medicine. The problem, says Ahima, is that health experts have long recognized that BMI is far from perfect at guessing exactly whose health is in peril, except for the very heavy. "It doesn't take into consideration the sex of the person, and we know women have more fat than men. It doesn't distinguish between ethnicities ... and it doesn't tell you where the fat is — is it total fat, subcutaneous fat, or intra-abdominal fat, which tends to be more harmful," he says. BMI is most useful in predicting health problems primarily in those who are very overweight; if you're not, it's not nearly as helpful.
PBS Next Avenue article