Health

Racial Bias Seen in BMI (Body Mass Index)

Nov 7 2019 By Aayushma B.
Body mass index
Body mass index

BMI stands for Body Mass Index. It is the depiction of weight of the surface area of your body.

It generally sets a standard for how much you should weigh in order to be healthy.

There are various scales of BMI. The scale ranges from 0-18, 18-25, 25-30, 30-40 and 40 plus.

These scales defines if you are anorexic, healthy, overweight, obese or morbidly obese.

However, at present these scales seem to not be helpful for everyone.

It is not accurate for every body type hence, the stereotyping. Different races have different percentage of healthy body fat.

This creates a place for racial bias in body mass index. This racial discrimination based up of body weight is generally stereotyped.

 

BMI Chart

The following BMI chart shows which category does each BMI fall under.

Racial Bias Seen in BMI (Body Mass Index)

 

The Racial Factor

Racial bias in BMI

As explained above, Body Mass Index is the ratio of weight, height and body fat of a person.

However, now it has come to the notice that these factors are subject to change.

The body fat percentage on an Asian man’s body will not be comparable to one of the American or African.

There shouldn’t be a universal body mass because it is different according to genetics.

This increases the chances of racial bias in the body mass measurement.

People didn’t account for the difference in the body structure of different type of bodies.

And this was not realized it until later. So, there might have been people who might have made wrong judgement due to the body mass index.

BMI is not dependable form of measurement.

The system is flawed and can make a person take wrong decisions on their health.

It fails to include the muscle factor in the body.

For decades people have been using BMI to identify their health condition. However, now it all seems not as dependable.

BMI fails to incorporate the individuality or even the diversity.

There are are people who are of various body shapes. It doesn’t necessarily mean that someone is unhealthy or fat because of the density of their body.

There have been cases where people with a lower BMI suffered from diseases like diabetes.

So, the question to ask is, should BMI really be used when it fails to incorporate such an important issue of racial diversity in body mass or should this stereotype be changed?

 

The Limitations of Body Mass Index

racial bias in bmi

BMI seemed useful in the past. But now doctors are questioning the applicability and accuracy of BMI and BMI calculator.

The body mass index doesn’t seem to support every kind of patient or the body shapes.

Along with racial bias there are several other reasons why Body mass index has failed to prove its effectiveness.

  • BMI cannot differentiate between fat and muscle:

It has been proven that the BMI calculator cannot properly differentiate between fat or muscle in a person’s body.

This can make better toned individuals into overweight sections or vice versa.

  • There are different kinds of fat in a human body:

bias in BMI

We should understand that there are various kinds of fats in our body.

But BMI only considers it as a single option. There are different purposes and importance of these kind of fats.

The metabolic effect of each of these types of fats is different on our health. Visceral fat is the undseriable one.

This fat causes people various kinds of diseases. But most of the times, even thin people can have high amount of visceral fat which BMI will fail to indicate.

This can make people more prone to diseases caused by weight gain.

  • Racial Factor:

As explained before BMI fails to ensure the incorporation of racial factor in the index.

It makes it difficult for people of different races to find out the right scale of BMI that is applicable in their case.

Due to this wrong conclusions might be drawn by doctors or patients.

  • Not reliable and inaccurate most of the times:

It has been proven that BMI index is not alway reliable.

The stereotype of body mass measurement doesn’t always seem the best way to determine the health of the patients.

As said above, there are terms and conditions for using such index but these conditions aren’t always clear.

 

Alternatives to BMI and BMI Calculator

Although, there aren’t any other tool that can completely replace the BM or BMI calculator.

Nonetheless, there are other tools that can be used together with BMI or BMI calculator in order to find out the actual condition of your health. You can use tools such as:


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