Is the BMI Really Useful?

March 6, 2012

We all know that the Body Mass Index or BMI is the standard by which we measure obesity and morbid obesity. However how useful is it, really? The general consensus is that the BMI is useful as an approximation of bariatric surgery eligibility. Further, comparing BMI numbers before and after surgery can help a patient visualize their progress through their weight loss journey.

However, the BMI calculation cannot be used as a precise be-all and end-all guide to qualify for weight loss surgery. Indeed, the BMI calculation leaves out several very important factors that can affect the final number including: age, gender, muscle tone and build frame. Each of the aforementioned can influence the body mass index number significantly. The BMI was created as a guide for an average person of average height, average build and average age.

After a patient decides that bariatric surgery is right for them, their BMI is only one of many factors that we take into account before we clear them for surgery. A number of tests are performed on each and every patient in order to make sure that bariatric surgery is a medical necessity – that the procedure is needed for medical and not aesthetic reasons.

So what can we take away from this? Well, we should continue to use the BMI to generally estimate our eligibility for weight loss surgery until we have a better tool. However, we should not focus too strongly on the BMI alone, as it would obscure other factors that are very important in deciding whether bariatric surgery is right for us.

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Advanced Surgical Associates is one of the first exclusively surgical groups practicing in Union County New Jersey. And that is just the first of many firsts for ASA. For over 40 years, we have pioneered breakthrough surgical patient care in North Jersey in both general and weight loss surgery. ASA also offers gastric bypass, gastric sleeve and gastric banding to those suffering from obesity in New Jersey.
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