Faulty BMI Wrongly Labels Millions Of Americans As Overweight Or Obese, Scientists Say

Is BMI short for body mass inaccuracy? Scientists say yes.

If you're a regular gym rat who lifts weights, you know that no matter how healthy or fit you are, your BMI number will likely stubbornly sit in the overweight or obese range. BMI, or a formula that uses your height and weight to calculate your body mass index, has long been thought of as an inaccurate measure of healthfulness. A new study from UCLA researchers published in the International Journal of Obesity has confirmed that 54 million Americans are wrongly labeled as overweight or obese by their BMIs.[slideshow:

"This should be a final nail in the coffin for BMI," said lead author A. Janet Tomiyama, a psychologist at UCLA in a statement.

Although BMI, which is calculated by dividing a person's weight by the square of their height, is still used as a health gauge, it's considered only "slightly more nuanced than weight alone." Researchers are now considering the fact that people with healthy BMIs can have normal weights but unhealthy lifestyles, and those labeled as overweight or even obese could just have a denser body type or a higher percentage of muscle mass.

The study found that approximately 47 percent of people considered overweight and 29 percent of those found to be obese by their BMI are actually "quite healthy."

The findings are especially important because the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently proposed rules that would allow an employer to "fine" employees for up to 30 percent on their health insurance for not meeting specific health requirements, including BMI, according to the Los Angeles Times.