The American Medical Association (AMA) has announced a new policy advising doctors to consider additional factors beyond body mass index (BMI) when determining a patient’s healthy weight. BMI, a measure of weight in relation to height, has long been used to categorize individuals as underweight, normal weight, overweight, or obese. However, the AMA now acknowledges that BMI is an inaccurate predictor of health risks, especially across different racial and ethnic groups.
At the annual meeting in Chicago, the influential physician group voted to adopt this new policy, highlighting the importance of considering other measures such as body composition, belly fat, waist circumference, and genetic factors. The AMA expressed concerns about the historical harm caused by the use of BMI as a measurement, including its association with racist exclusion.
The AMA acknowledges that the BMI scale is primarily based on data from white individuals, while body shape and composition vary among different racial and ethnic groups, genders, and age groups. The announcement also recognizes that weight problems should not be solely attributed to poor lifestyle choices but rather require a more nuanced understanding of individual factors and genetics.
The AMA urges doctors to guide patients away from an obsession with dieting and instead help them develop balanced, personalized approaches to finding the body weight that is best suited to their individual needs. The policy emphasizes that placing excessive importance on achieving a certain body size or thinness can be detrimental to both physical and mental health, stating that the focus should be on overall well-being.
Additionally, the AMA’s new policy states that BMI should not be the sole criterion for denying insurance reimbursement. This change reflects the growing recognition that BMI is an imperfect measure and should not be used as the sole determinant of health or eligibility for insurance coverage.
By revising its stance on BMI, the AMA aims to encourage a more comprehensive and individualized approach to assessing weight and health, recognizing the limitations of BMI as a standalone measurement tool.
Citation: Reuters. (2023, June 19). American Medical Association Advises Doctors to Pay Less Attention to Body Mass Index (BMI) in Determining Healthy Weight. Retrieved from