England: BMI should be scrapped and obesity strategy is ‘dangerous’, says committee

21 May 2021

The use of body mass index (BMI) to assess whether a person’s weight is healthy should stop, according to a report on body image by the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee.

The committee concluded that BMI contributes to eating disorders and people’s mental health by ‘disrupting body image and inviting social stigmas’.

The report also labelled the government’s obesity strategy ‘dangerous’ for people with negative body image, calling for an independent review, as well as a rethink on how the government collects data on childhood obesity.

Instead, the committee called for the adoption of a ‘health at every size’ approach to prioritise lifestyle choices over correcting weight.

The report noted mental health minister Nadine Dorries’ acknowledgement that ‘there was “good and bad” in the use of BMI’.

The committee also reported the ‘devastating’ impact of lockdown on those with or at high risk of developing eating disorders, urging restrictions or even a ban on altered images in adverts.

Committee chair Caroline Nokes said: ‘Government action in this area is limited – we need to see urgent action.

‘The government must ensure its policies are not contributing to body image pressures.’

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