The Body Mass Index or BMI seems to be just about everywhere these days. It seems that virtually every weight loss, diet and exercise website has a Body Mass Index calculator on it. The idea behind the Body Mass Index and what has made it so popular is that it is a fast and easy way for just about anyone to understand if they have a problem with excess weight. If they do, they can get an idea of the degree of that problem.
Unfortunately, the Body Mass Index has also turned obesity and excess weight into a very black-and-white problem – “either you’re fat or you're not.” In actual fact, the Body Mass Index only tells a small sliver of the entire story. When the patient is being evaluated for bariatric surgery, they will not qualify if they do not meet certain BMI criteria. However, that simply means that patients will then move on to more in-depth pre-operative testing that gives their surgeon an idea of their general health, as well as lung, kidney and heart function. Each of these metrics are all-important when discussing the risks of surgery.
Further, the patient’s state of mind is very important, because the lifestyle changes they will have to undergo after surgery significant. Someone who's not ready or willing to make those changes will not be successful in their weight loss efforts. After all, bariatric surgery is not a magic bullet, it is simply a tool in the fight against obesity. Ultimately, it's up the patient to make the procedure successful.
The BMI also doesn't take into account many factors that can alter the patient's index. Age, gender, body frame, musculature and other factors can all affect the BMI reading, but are not taken into account when the Body Mass Index is calculated. As such, we always recommend that patients used The BMI as very convenient tool, however do not place too much emphasis on it the be-all and end-all of qualifying for bariatric surgery.