Did you know that if you are 5 feet 5 inches tall and weigh 155 pounds you are considered overweight by the body mass index (BMI) standard?

Created years ago, the BMI formula may be racially and ethnically biased as it’s based solely on Caucasian men and women, according to a recent study from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. Currently, BMI levels are based on someone’s weight and height as opposed to other more comprehensive measurements.
To test the theory that the BMI might be biased, researchers used a method called low-dose X-ray (DXA) to measure obesity. This method estimates lean mass, fat mass and bone density. Based on these readings, researchers discovered that some African-American men and women are considered obese by the BMI formula when in reality they aren’t.

Why the discrepancy? Molly Bray, PhD, one of the study’s researchers and a professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine, explains that it’s caused by differences in hydration state, bone mineral content and density of lean mass in different ethnic groups.

Various obesity studies exclusively use BMI measurements. This includes the Office of Minority Health, which reported that from 2003 to 2006, about 72 percent of African-American men and 80 percent of African-American women older than 20 were overweight or obese.

Check your BMI here.