I had a Spanish-inspired lunch:
I have been CRAVING yellow rice for days. Black beans with yellow rice is such an awesome combination. Nom, nom, nom.
With a side of green beans for some color.
Is Your BMI Number BS?
This morning, I was doing some research on the BMI scale for the Operation Beautiful book.
The BMI (Body Mass Index) scale uses your height and weight to determine if you are underweight, a healthy weight, overweight, or obese.
You can calculate your BMI using that chart above or this calculator. The BMI categories are as follows:
- Underweight = <18.5
- Normal weight = 18.5-24.9
- Overweight = 25-29.9
- Obesity = BMI of 30 or greater
Reading about BMI got me thinking how odd the BMI system is.
- What about athletes who have a lot of lean muscle on them? A strong woman would likely weigh more than a thin but inactive woman. The BMI doesn’t account for muscle mass or level of fitness at all.
- What about the differences in body shape and bone size? Or, for that matter, gender? What about your age? People tend to get shorter as they age, so their BMI would go up over time even if their weight didn’t change.
- What’s the point of the BMI, anyway? Health is obviously influenced by your weight, but its not the be-all-end-all.
On the POM Wonderful tour, I met Roni, and we started to talk a little about the Fat Acceptance movement. I don’t really have an option on FA yet (I try not to form opinions on topics I feel like I don’t understand!), but she pointed me to Kate Harding’s blog, Shapely Prose, who talks a lot about body image and FA.
Kate has a really interesting set on Flickr called “Illustrated BMI", in which woman have submitted pictures of themselves with their BMI numbers. The point of the set is that BMI doesn’t really tell us much.
For example, Ginny is 5 ft 11 and 214 pounds. She’s 1/2 a pound away from “obese” according to the BMI.
These sisters are “overweight,” “normal weight,” and “underweight.”
Chiara is “overweight.”
To get to my point… I think that the BMI means very little.
The BMI issues makes me wonder why we try to shove so many different bodies in one neat little chart. Maybe some would argue that it’s a good “starting point,” but I fear that it’s also very limiting to talk about health in terms of weight/height ratios. Health is about many things, not just a number on a scale.
Do you disagree with me about the BMI? Why? If you could create a new system to determine a person’s “healthiness,” what would it consider?
PS – Today is the LAST day to vote for Healthy Tipping Point and Operation Beautiful for the Foodbuzz awards. I’m up for Best Healthy Living Blog and Blogger Humantarian Effort. If you love reading HTP or OB, I’d love your vote! 🙂 Thank you!
I think any new system would have to take into account the persons activity level and body makeup. Like you said, someone who has more muscle on them would be “hevier” than someone who is inactive. This chart would make that person look overweight when in reality they are in better condition than a person who does next to nothing. To me, this chart is just another thing that makes women feel like they have to fit a specific mold. I mean look at those women who would have been considered “overweight” or “obese” that is ridiculous! You should be healthy but there is much more to being healthy than a number on a scale. There are many other things that should be taken into account.