Press Release

New NEJM Obesity Study Relies On Flawed Body-Mass Index

Washington, DC – A study set to be published in The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) on Thursday makes the wild claim that a few extra pounds might literally kill you. For its findings, the study relies on the highly controversial Body-Mass Index (BMI)–a simple measure of height and weight. But this week, two major medical journals published articles advocating against the use of the BMI to calculate mortality risk.

An article by Dr. David Cundiff in the International Journal of Obesity concludes: “I suggest abandoning the use of the BMI as a surrogate for physical inactivity and poor diet…” And a comment by Dr. Maria Franzosi in the British medical journal The Lancet declared: “BMI can definitely be let aside as a clinical and epidemiological measure of cardiovascular risk.”

A growing number of studies indicate that the BMI is an ineffective measure of overall health because it fails to take into account factors other than height and weight, such as muscle mass, fat distribution, and overall diet.

The report in the NEJM comes a week after a major study in The Lancet by researchers from the Mayo Clinic who analyzed 40 studies on obesity and mortality and found people who were simply overweight “had the lowest risk for total mortality.” That study also found that even slightly obese patients “had no increased risk of total mortality.”

“A growing body of research indicates that this study fails where so many others have failed in the past,” said J. Justin Wilson, Senior Analyst at the Center for Consumer Freedom. “By reducing Americans’ lifelong health to a simple ratio of height and weight, the study misses the complex interactions between the many factors that influence our overall longevity.”

Wilson added: “Studies like this do a tremendous disservice to Americans and only further confuse them about their health. On top of that, activist groups and trial lawyers seize on studies like these to justify lawsuits and further disinformation. It’s unfortunate that the study’s authors seem to have overlooked the latest science behind obesity and the Body-Mass Index.”

To schedule interviews please contact Center for Consumer Freedom communications director Andrew Porter at 202.463.7112.

Founded in 1996, the Center for Consumer Freedom is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization devoted to promoting personal responsibility and protecting consumer choices. For more information, visit


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