The BS behind BMI

March 2010, Xtend-Life Expert

Summary

Hi, my name is Dean and I am overweight…well, according to the Body Mass Index (BMI).

It seems strange though, especially considering that I’m reasonably fit, eat a healthy balanced diet and have been blessed with genes that help me gain muscle even if I do light to moderate weight-bearing exercises…but still, the BMI says I’m overweight so I can’t be healthy, right?

Wrong! I’ll explain why…

The BMI has been used for ages (over 100 years) and many people believe that it’s an accurate indication of good health. It’s simple to calculate and measure: “…weight in kilograms is divided by height in meters squared…someone with a BMI of less than 18.5 is considered ‘underweight’, between 18.5 and 24.9 is ‘normal’, 25 to 29.9 is ‘overweight’ and 30 or greater is clinically obese.” So where does the problem lie?

Hi, my name is Dean and I am overweight…well, according to the Body Mass Index (BMI).

It seems strange though, especially considering that I’m reasonably fit, eat a healthy balanced diet and have been blessed with genes that help me gain muscle even if I do light to moderate weight-bearing exercises…but still, the BMI says I’m overweight so I can’t be healthy, right?

Wrong! I’ll explain why…

The BMI has been used for ages (over 100 years) and many people believe that it’s an accurate indication of good health. It’s simple to calculate and measure: “…weight in kilograms is divided by height in meters squared…someone with a BMI of less than 18.5 is considered ‘underweight’, between 18.5 and 24.9 is ‘normal’, 25 to 29.9 is ‘overweight’ and 30 or greater is clinically obese.” So where does the problem lie?

Well, the fact that one kilogram of muscle weighs pretty much the same a kilogram of fat should start giving obvious clues as to where the chinks are in the BMI armor. Muscle is also much denser than fat. Someone with more muscle than fat will look totally different to someone with more fat than muscle – especially if the two people share the same mass.

Take me for example…I’m 1.68 meters tall (5’6) – yes I know, hardly a basketball player – and weigh 74 kilograms (163 pounds). According to the BMI, my score is 26.24 which puts me into the overweight category. I find this laughable as I have a body fat percentage of 10%...far from being unhealthy.

Sure, BMI can help some medical practitioners recognize the early signs of potential health conditions in some patients but in most cases, there may be a dozen underlying concerns such as high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, nutritional imbalances, glycation, low methylation levels, etc, which could be easily missed if using the BMI alone.

Doctors and insurance companies who use BMI measurements as health indicators need to wake-up and realize that it’s not your weight that’s an issue…it’s where your body accumulates fat that’s more of a concern.

Anyway, that’s my rant for the day so I’ll get off my soapbox now…before it buckles under my weight!

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