Recently the body mass index has come under more criticism than Seattle coach Pete Carroll’s call to throw the ball in the closing minutes of Super Bowl 49. One new study looking at folks in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that, after checking on blood pressure and triglyceride, cholesterol, glucose, insulin resistance and C-reactive protein levels, nearly half of overweight individuals (BMI 25-29) and 29 percent of obese individuals (BMI 30-39) actually were metabolically healthy. And more than 30 percent of those considered healthy (BMI 19-24) were not.
The furor over the BMI is heating up because employers will use it -- along with measures such as cholesterol, glucose and tobacco use -- to determine employee health-care contributions if a rule proposed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is adopted. (You weigh more, you pay more.)
Now our beef (or should we say lean protein) is not with the suggestion to use the sometimes unreliable BMI (developed in the 1830s!) along with state-of-the-art measures to promote health. In our experience, the best way to help employees become healthy is to support them with company-based wellness initiatives that offer free programs and incentives for sustained improvements in health markers (you weigh less and you get your metabolic state in order, you pay less). To help folks get healthier, you need to create an environment in which everyone of every size can feel good about taking steps -- that’s 10,000 a day -- toward better health.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.