How reliable is BMI as an indicator of body fatness?The correlation between the BMI number and body fatness is fairly strong; however the correlation varies by sex, race, and age. These variations include the following examples: 3, 4
- At the same BMI, women tend to have more body fat than men.
- At the same BMI, older people, on average, tend to have more body fat than younger adults.
- Highly trained athletes may have a high BMI because of increased muscularity rather than increased body fatness.
- The individual's waist circumference (because abdominal fat is a predictor of risk for obesity-related diseases).
- Other risk factors the individual has for diseases and conditions associated with obesity (for example, high blood pressure or physical inactivity).