A new study highlights why body mass index (BMI) is a flawed measure of one's health.

BMI, which is a simple calculation based on a person's weight and height, does not in fact assess a person's body fat. Because it is based solely on weight, BMI risks classifying those who are heavy due to muscle, rather than body fat, as overweight or obese.

To get a sense of the association between BMI and mortality, researchers did tests on 50,000 middle-aged and older women and 5,000 middle-aged and older men in Manitoba, Canada, who they monitored for seven years. In addition to recording the participants' height and weight, the researchers, through x-rays, recorded their precise level of body fat.

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