LOS ANGELES - A new study is calling into question the validity of body mass index (BMI) as a practical way of measuring healthy weight in patients.
Researchers for the European Association for the Study of Diabetes in Stockholm say waist-to-hip ratio, and not body mass index is a better measure of healthy weight which may also predict early death better than BMI.
Scientists say the new method should replace BMI, which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention commonly cites as a preferable tool to analyze weight and health.
BMI is calculated by taking a person's weight in kilograms and dividing by the square of height in meters, with a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 considered healthy. But this measurement doesn't take into account fat distribution, the researchers said.
"It doesn't consider where fat is stored -- whether it's accumulated around the hips or the waist. As a result, BMI doesn't reliably predict risk of disease or mortality," said Irfan Khan, lead researcher and a medical student at University College Cork's College of Medicine and Health in Cork, Ireland.
Khan explained that waist-to-hip ration helps doctors better and more accurately calculate levels of abdominal fat which wraps around organs deep inside the body and can heighten various risks for people who are over weight.