LOS ANGELES -- The American Medical Association is clarifying the role of a person's body mass index, also known as BMI.
The group is urging doctors to de-emphasize its use when assessing health and obesity of patients and acknowledge that the measurement has been used for "racist exclusion" and has caused "historical harm."
The main concerns the AMA said it's found with the BMI system is that it does not account for body composition, muscle mass, racial differences and genetics.
The recommendation comes after an AMA report recognized issues of racist exclusion because BMI is based primarily on data collected from previous generations of non-Hispanic, white populations.
"BMI should not be used as a standalone measure to understand health," said ABC News contributor Dr. Darien Sutton. "There are many other factors in life that equate to health. Unfortunately, body mass index has been utilized as an easy standard to say, 'Oh, weight is the cause of chronic disease.'"
Sutton adds that while weight - although associated to chronic disease - does not necessarily cause it.
"That leads to poor quality care and specifically to Black women, who typically have higher levels of BMI compared to the average population," said Sutton.
The AMA suggests tracking weight with other factors by measuring waist circumference, skin folds and resting metabolic health, among other factors such as cholesterol, blood pressure for a total picture of a patient's health.