The Usefulness of BMI

The Body Mass Index, commonly referred to as the BMI, is probably the quickest and easiest determinant of whether or not a patient may qualify for weight loss surgery. BMI is useful as a guide to surgeons and patients alike, measuring weight vs. height and ultimately determining whether a patient is overweight or obese. While BMI is undoubtedly a good first step in the qualification process, its usefulness does not extend much further.


The BMI itself is an imprecise system. Results are calculated based on limited criteria, which do not take into account important factors such as age, gender, muscle mass and bone structure. This means that a bodybuilder, for example, may register as overweight or obese when in actual fact, they are far from it. This is not to say that BMI isn’t useful; it is as a rough guide.

Those considering bariatric surgery should also remember that the Body Mass Index is not the only qualifying criterion. Rather, there are several different criteria that your surgeon and primary physician will take into account before they decide that you are an ideal candidate for weight loss surgery. Some of these may include whether or not you have an acceptable level of surgical risk, your general health, the results of pre-operative testing, any diseases associated with morbid obesity, past attempts at weight loss and variables including insurance coverage, financial considerations and the specific procedure being performed.

All in all, the Body Mass Index calculation is useful; however it should not be relied upon as a definitive answer to the question: Do I Qualify for Bariatric Surgery?  It’s always best to speak to your primary physician and bariatric surgeon to learn more and get started on you weight loss journey.

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