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BMI May Not Give Accurate Body Fat Reading, Study Says

iStock/Thinkstock(MONTREAL) -- Which is more accurate, body fat measurement or body mass index (BMI)?

Your BMI has been the gold standards for predicting overall health. Patients and doctors routinely calculate BMI, and some employers even use it to determine health care costs.

Some recent studies stand that on its head, however, saying high BMI may actually be associated with longevity. While this "obesity paradox" continues to be debated, it seems clear that BMI does not always give the most accurate reading of body fat content.

A new study published in Annals of Internal Medicine had researchers in Montreal looking at roughly 5,000 women and 1,000 men who had a bone mineral density testing done. Researchers are using those scans for another purpose; they, of course, estimate bone density, but also calculate body fat percentage.

High body fat percentage went hand in hand with higher chance of death from any cause – although high BMI did not.  Low BMI was linked to a higher risk of death from all causes.

The findings suggest that the BMI is not a good measure of overall health at all, and is a poor estimate of body fat content to boot.

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