Call for Kiwi-spe­cific BMI scales


‘‘It's just one mea­sure; it's like mea­sur­ing poverty by just mea­sur­ing in­come’’

An ex­pert is call­ing for new BMI scales mea­sur­ing weight, cus­tomised to each eth­nic groups.

The health of eth­nic mi­nori­ties is be­ing mis­clas­si­fied thanks to an in­dis­crim­i­nate global Body Mass In­dex (BMI) scale, said Scott Dun­can, as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor at AUT Uni­ver­sity.

Maori and Pa­cific is­land peo­ple were over-clas­si­fied as over­weight ac­cord­ing to cur­rent BMI stan­dards, said Dun­can.

‘‘They’re heav­ier in gen­eral; they have more lean mus­cle mass, as well as hav­ing big­ger frames. And the op­po­site goes for Asian and In­dian pop­u­la­tions, who tend to be un­der­clas­si­fied as over­weight.’’

He wants Kiwi-spe­cific BMI scales, that ad­justs for the dif­fer­ent builds and body types of our highly di­verse na­tion.

Dun­can is the head of re­search of AUT’s school of sport and re­cre­ation, as well as an as­so­ciate di­rec­tor at the uni­ver­sity’s Hu­man Po­ten­tial Cen­tre.

BMI is a per­son’s weight in kilo­grams, di­vided by their height squared in cen­time­tres. Those with a high BMI are con­sid­ered more over­weight.

Uni­ver­sity of Auck­land’s Su­san Mor­ton said BMI was quite a blunt in­stru­ment to mea­sure health.

‘‘It’s just one mea­sure; it’s like mea­sur­ing poverty by just mea­sur­ing in­come.’’

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