American Medical Association Opposes BMI Metric, Supports ‘Gender-Affirming Care’

The American Medical Association (AMA) recently claimed that the body mass index (BMI) metric has caused “historical harm” by being used for “racist exclusion” and pledged to preserve “gender-affirming care” for “transgender” individuals.

The American Medical Association was founded in 1847 and is a lobbying group for over 270,000 physicians and medical students.

In 2022, The New Yorker noted, “Since 1988, the A.M.A. has spent $462 million on lobbying, an amount exceeded only by the expenditures of Realtors, and the American Hospital Association.”

On June 14, 2023, the AMA published a paper entitled, “Use of BMI alone is an imperfect clinical measure. But BMI is an imperfect measure because it does not directly assess body fat.”

BMI, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is an individual’s weight in kilograms or pounds divided by their height in meters or feet. A high BMI can indicate a large amount of fat in a person. BMI screens weight categories that could potentially lead to health risks, but it does not diagnose body fatness or the health of individuals.

“Numerous comorbidities, lifestyle issues, gender, ethnicities, medically significant familial-determined mortality effectors, duration of time one spends in certain BMI categories and the expected accumulation of fat with aging are likely to significantly affect the interpretation of BMI data, particularly in regard to morbidity and mortality rates,” the AMA reported.

“Further, the use of BMI is problematic when used to diagnose and treat individuals with eating disorders because it does not capture the full range of abnormal eating disorders,” it added.

According to The Hill, AMA’s report led the association’s House of Delegates to take on a policy recognizing issues with BMI for its “historical harm,” use for “racist exclusion,” basis on past generations of non-Hispanic White individuals, and lack of gender and ethnicity considerations.

Quartz, a left-leaning business publication, claimed that the BMI metric is “racist” and “misogynistic” because “when Belgian mathematician Adolphe Quetelet developed the index in the 1830s, he did so using data from European white men.”

The use of BMI gained prominence in the 1970s by physiologist and nutritionist Ancel Keys, one of the first “champions” of the Mediterranean diet, which is a way of eating based on the traditional cuisine of countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea.

On June 12, 2023, the AMA House of Delegates passed the Endocrine Society’s resolution to “protect access to evidence-based gender-affirming care for transgender and gender-diverse individuals.” According to the AMA, the medical community’s responsibility is to provide “evidence-based care” because political opposition towards gender-affirming care has grown.

“In the resolution, the AMA committed to opposing any criminal and legal penalties against patients seeking gender-affirming care, family members or guardians who support them in seeking medical care, and health care facilities and clinicians who provide gender-affirming care,” the AMA proclaimed.

“The AMA will work at the federal and state level with legislators and regulators to oppose such policies and collaborate with other organizations to educate the Federation of State Medical Boards about the importance of gender-affirming care,” the association added.