Another problem with B.M.I. is that it was developed and validated mostly in white men, said Sabrina Strings, an associate professor of sociology at the University of California, Irvine. But body composition and its relationship with health can vary depending on your gender, race and ethnicity. “Women and people of color are largely not represented in many of these data,” Dr. Strings said. “Nevertheless, they’re being used to create a universal standard.”

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