Here We Go: American Medical Association Claims BMI is “Racist” and Should Not Be Used Due to Its Origin in 19th Century White Body Standards

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Rating chart of body fat based on height and weight in kilograms. (Image Source: Getty Images)

The American Medical Association (AMA), one of the country’s largest medical organizations, has now jumped onto the bandwagon of wokeness by labeling the Body Mass Index (BMI) as “racist.”

The association has argued that BMI has a troubled past, with roots in “racist exclusion” and “historical harm,” and is thus an imperfect tool for evaluating an individual’s health status.

At its annual conference, the AMA decided to adopt a new policy, Stat News reported.

“BMI cutoffs are based primarily on data collected from previous generations of non-Hispanic White populations and does not consider a person’s gender or ethnicity,” the policy stated.

Daily Mail reported:

Body mass index (BMI), devised by a white man considering white bodies, is measured by dividing a person’s weight in kilograms or pounds by the square of height in meters or feet, and it has been deeply ingrained in the medical system as a way to measure population health more broadly.

But on an individual level, BMI does not take into consideration relative body shape and how fat is stored. For instance, Asian people who fall within a ‘healthy’ BMI range are still at a high risk of diabetes.

Meanwhile, black women tend to store fat around their hips and legs, whereas white women tend to store it around their midriff, which is more dangerous to their health – even though both may have a similar BMI.

The medical body voted last week to recommend that physicians take into consideration more than the ratio of a person’s height to their weight, instead measure a person’s visceral fat (considered to be the riskiest type that accumulates around the organs), the percentage of fat, bone, and muscle in one’s body, and genetic and metabolic factors such as abnormal blood sugar levels.

The AMA Council on Science and Public Health said: ‘Our AMA recognizes: the issues with using body mass index (BMI) as a measurement because: (a) of the eugenics behind the history of BMI, (b) of the use of BMI for racist exclusion, and (c) BMI cutoffs are based on the imagined ideal Caucasian and does not consider a person’s gender or ethnicity.’

BMI is a simple ratio of weight to height used to categorize individuals into underweight, normal weight, overweight, and obese categories. Yes, it was developed by a Belgian mathematician, Adolphe Quetelet, in the 19th century, but to call it “racist” is a far cry from reality.

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Using the word ‘racist’ so freely to describe a clinical tool is both an overreach and an alarming precedent. If we were to apply the same logic across the board, we might as well term blood pressure measurements as biased too. After all, the sphygmomanometer, used to measure blood pressure, was invented in 1881 by Samuel Siegfried Karl Ritter von Baschd, a white Austrian physician.

It’s high time the AMA, and others of their ilk, stop playing the blame game and start focusing on how to deliver effective healthcare solutions that truly meet the needs of all Americans. Enough with the race to find racism in everything; it’s time to get back to the science.


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