Editorial 1: Re-evaluating indiscriminate use of BMI to make conclusions on health


  • India is said to be among the least obese countries in the world, with an average Body Mass Index (BMI) of less than 22.BMI –the ubiquitous tool believed to measure fat and fitness – would classify most Indians as healthy.But more Indians than ever are at risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure andcholesterollevels.Obesity, experts warn, isa “ticking time bomb”.


  • The paradox is built within the tool of choice – the BMI, a simple calculation that divides an individual’s weight in kilograms by the square of their height in meters.
  • The most-repeated myths about fitness are “the lower the BMI, the healthier you are…or that obesity happens only when you’re not eating well or exercising regularly”. Both claims are misleading and untrue.
  • BMI  is one method of tracking your weight and identifying potential weight-related problems.  Like a Rapid Antigen Test for COVID-19, it may help screen for chronic health conditions without promising the accuracy of an RT-PCR test.

A product of bias

  • Some 200 years ago, a Belgian astronomer and statistician Adolphe Jacques Quetelet wanted to study humans and develop ‘social laws’, like the laws of physics.
  • He pored through available datasets to find the ‘average man’, using the height and weight of Caucasian, middle-aged men from France and Scotland.
  • The Queletet’s Index, the first iteration of the BMI, helped identify a type of perfection and intended for it to be a population-level tool only, cautioning its use on individuals.

A complex science

  • Mounting evidence since has led people to reconsider the logic ofBMI.
  • For one, BMI doesn’t-understand weight entirely, is unable to distinguish between muscle mass and body fat.
  •  Muscle and bone are denser than fat and thus weigh more; explaining why people with larger body frames (like athletes) have a higher BMI and older adults (who lose muscle mass) tend to rank lower.
  •  BMI clumsily threads the needle between obesity and mortality, mistaking correlation for causation.
  • People who are obese have a high BMI, but it is not necessarily true that a high BMI implies obesity.
  • The science around ‘fat’ is constantly evolving. It is known that excess body fat increases the risk of non-communicable diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, heart conditions and 13 types of cancers.
  •  An analysis in Science journal, however, found ‘obese’ people (with a BMI of 30 or more) carried a lower cardiovascular risk, and those in the ‘normal’ range were metabolically unhealthy and had a higher mortality risk – what it called the “obesity mortality paradox”.

More findings

  • Research has found at least  59different types of obesity, making one measure of ‘body fat’ impractical.
  • The measure also relies only on self-reported weight and height, disregarding other influences such as bone density, muscularity, sex, age, genetic differences, per a-study in theInternational Journal of Obesity.
  • Social factors such as poverty and educational so influence weight and obesity.
  • Body fat also varies across ethnic and racial groups. Asian Indians, for instance, suffer from the Y-Y paradox, i.e at the same BMI, we have more visceral fat — the fat inside the stomach — than Europeans do.
  • Since Indians are prone to abdominal obesity, they are at higher risk of type 2 diabetes and heart diseases, studies show.
  • WHO notes that BMI underestimates health risks for or South Asians, and the optimal health for Indians would then be a low BMI.


  • The American Medical Association(AMA) on June 14 this year accepted that BMI was an imperfect way to measure body fat for it does not account for differences across race/ethnic groups, sexes, genders,  age-span and had caused historical harm.
  • AMA’s decision echoed a longstanding consensus among experts and activists that BMI is flawed, discriminatory and takes away targeted attention from health crises such as the alarming prevalence’ of non-communicable diseases.

Editorial 2: The Open Market Sale Scheme for wheat and rice


  • The Food Corporation of India’s imposed quantity restrictions followed by the refusal to allow States to procure the two food grains through its Open Market Sale Scheme.


  • States have been looking at alternative ways of procuring wheat and rice in the after the Food Corporation of India’s (FCI) imposed quantity restrictions followed by the refusal to allow States to procure the two food grains through its Open Market Sale Scheme (OMSS).
  • The Centre has made it clear that the reason for restricting supplies per bidder and eventually excluding states from procuring through auctions was to curb inflation and regulate supply,
  • States such as Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have criticised the government for engaging in “politics” at the expense of marginalised beneficiaries of State welfare schemes.

Open Market Sale Scheme

  • Under the Open Market Sale Scheme, the FCI from time to time sells surplus food grains from the central pool especially wheat and rice in the open market to traders, bulk consumers, retail chains and so on at pre-determined prices.
  • The FCI does this through e-auctions where open market bidders can buy specified quantities.
  • States are also allowed to procure food grains through the OMSS without participating in the auctions, for their needs beyond what they get from the central pool to distribute to NFSA (National Food Security Act) beneficiaries.

Centre’s revised version of OMSS

  • The Centre decided to restrict the quantity that a single bidder can purchase in a single bid under the OMSS.
  • While the maximum quantity allowed earlier was 3,000 metric tonnes (MT) per bid for a buyer, it will now range from 10-100 metric tonnes.
  • The FCI claims that the quantities have been reduced this time to accommodate more small and marginal buyers and to ensure wider reach of the scheme.
  •  The objective behind the move is also to curb retail prices as allowing smaller bids should ideally break monopolies of bulk buyers, allowing more competitive bids by small buyers.

Features of OMSS

  • The FCI conducts weekly auctions through e-auctions in the open market to sell surplus stocks of wheat and rice.
  • The reserve price of wheat and rice for sale under OMSS is fixed by the Department of Food and Public Distribution (DFPD) every year.
  • The reserve price is kept uniform throughout the country without adding any further freight to facilitate buyers to lift stocks from any place at ease.
  • The sale of wheat and rice under OMSS is undertaken throughout the year in the non-procuring states and during the non-procurement period in the procuring states.
  • The quantum of wheat and rice for sale under OMSS is decided by the DFPD based on the availability and demand of food grains.
  • The surplus procuring states (paddy/rice) are not allowed to participate in e-auction for the purchase of rice for their state schemes and they are advised to retain stocks under the state pool for their schemes.

Significances of OMSS

  • Enhance the supply of food grains
  • Prevent wastage and deterioration of food grains
  • Provides an alternative source of food grains
  • Generates revenue for the FCI

Challenges faced by OMSS:

  • Low demand from the buyers
  • Logistical challenges
  • Limited impact on stabilizing the market prices
  • Does not address the structural problems

Way forward for OMSS:

  • Revising the reserve prices of food grains
  • Improving logistics and quality management
  • Diversifying product portfolio
  • Coordinating with state governments
  • The FCI should also ensure transparency and accountability in its operations under OMSS.


  • OMSS is a useful tool for managing excess stocks of food grains in India. It has several features, significances, advantages and disadvantages. It also faces some challenges that need to be addressed. By adopting some measures to improve its functioning, OMSS can play a vital role in ensuring food security and price stability in the country.


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