So, here is something I, and lots of other fat activists, have been saying in multiple ways for a very long time: Fat is not a reliable indicator of health. And to treat fat as a reliable indicator of health is not only bad for fat people, who are axiomatically presumed to be unhealthy (and thus suffer the consequences of a perceived lack of health, like denial of access to insurance and medical care), but is also bad for thin people, who are axiomatically presumed to be healthy (and thus may be harmed by undetected health issues they are assumed not to have).
Well, whaddaya know?
Millions of Americans who have been labelled overweight or obese based on their body mass index (BMI) are in actual fact perfectly healthy, according to a new study.This study, by the way, comes at a time when the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has proposed a rule which "could penalise people with BMIs higher than 25...by making them pay higher premiums."
Scientists in California say that 34.4 million Americans considered technically overweight due to their BMI are actually healthy based on a range of cardiometabolic health markers, as are some 19.8 million 'obese' people. The massive misclassification isn't just about which words we use, either, say the researchers, since the flawed BMI's usage in the health insurance industry unfairly penalises some, while rewarding others.
"In the overweight BMI category, 47 percent are perfectly healthy," said researcher Jeffrey Hunger from the University of California, Santa Barbara. "So to be using BMI as a health proxy – particularly for everyone within that category – is simply incorrect. Our study should be the final nail in the coffin for BMI."
The researchers looked at data from the most recent US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to analyse the link between BMI – a measure calculated by dividing a person's weight in kilograms by the square of their height in metres – with a range of specific health markers. These cardiometabolic assessments included blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol, among others.
What they found was that BMI incorrectly pegs people's health at both ends of the weight scale.
"Not only does BMI mislabel 54 million heavier individuals as unhealthy, it actually overlooks a large group of individuals considered to have a 'healthy' BMI who are actually unhealthy when you look at underlying clinical indicators," said Hunger.
I've noted that these sorts of policies are, truly, nothing more than fat hatred that penalize fat people for the way we look—and this study confirms it. Despite the alleged concern about "health," it's really just a tax we're required to pay, irrespective of our actual health, because we don't conform to a kyriarchetypical Beauty Standard.
BMI is garbage. And using it as a metric to assess health is actively incompatible with meaningful healthcare.
[H/T to Shaker ariadne83.]