Is BMI a good indicator of healthy weight?


Body mass index, or BMI, has been used for many years to assess an individual’s health, using their weight and height. It is a tool used by health professionals to assess the risk of chronic disease and gives an idea of whether an individual is ‘underweight’, a ‘healthy weight’, ‘overweight’, or ‘obese’.

But is BMI really a good indicator of healthy weight?

While BMI is a simple and useful screening tool when looking at groups of people, it is not an accurate marker of individual health. Measuring height and weight, it does not discriminate between fat and muscle, nor does it account for body shape or fat distribution differences. Indicators of strength, fitness and central fat tissue are far more indicative of health than BMI.

It is still helpful in estimating individual health, particularly when combined with waist circumference measurement, and can give an indication of significant weight gain, associated with a range of disease outcomes. However, BMI is better described as a good indicator of the health of a population, rather than an individual.


Bradford Clinic