Bariatric Surgery/BMI


I've heard that a lot of people deemed obese are still considered medically healthy. At what point does BMI matter? When is a person overweight enough that they actually are unhealthy with no way around it?

Hi James -

I'm going to start with BMI - it's a useful tool when we study populations, but it doesn't tell us how healthy an individual is. Actual fatness (percent fat relative to lean body mass) is better and more closely tied to individual health outcomes. Even better is something like the Edmonton Obesity Staging Scale which is designed to evaluated the impact of weight on multiple aspects of health. We use BMI because it's easy, but in the long run it not the ideal tool.

That said, it's pretty hard to have a very high body weight and not have poorer health as weight goes up. Not that it does not happen, but it's more the exception than the rule. Not only is obesity tied to many chronic diseases but it's also generally associated with shorter lifespan. If our ideal in health is both quality of life and longevity, obesity tends to reduce both.

I hope this helps. It's not at all an easy or straight forward question!

In Health,

Dr Jacques

Bariatric Surgery

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Jacqueline Jacques, ND


My expertise is in nutrition and weight loss surgery. I can answer questions related to nutritional care, vitamins, deficiencies, diagnosis, treatment and management. I can answer nutrition questions related to any procedure: gastric bypass (RNY), duodenal switch, lap-band, etc


I have spent seven years working almost exclusinvely in the area of weight loss surgery and nutrition.

Bariatric Times, Beyond Change Obesity, WLS Lifestyles, Nutrition and the MD, OH Magazine

Awards and Honors
Health Professional of the Year 2004 - Bariatric Support Centers International

©2016 All rights reserved.