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May 2019 Br J Cardiol 2019;26:69–71 doi:10.5837/bjc.2019.021

What are we?* The BMI should accept terms for a graceful retirement
*with apologies to The Bunyip of Berkeley’s Creek

Michael E J Lean, Thang S Han

Abstract

Introduction It is time to adopt recent (and even some 20th century) evidence for obesity and weight management. Some aspects of current practice, both clinical and epidemiological, are still largely lodged in the mid-19th century. The body mass index (BMI) was first proposed in 1835 by Adolphe Quetelet, a Belgian mathematician, as a way to standardise body composition assessment for people of different heights. His work was published in the English language a few years later.1 At that time, few people, mostly affluent, had a BMI above 30 kg/m2, and far fewer had type 2 diabetes. The main public health concern was malnutrition, and BMI <18

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