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Friday, January 4, 2013

BMI is bullshit

....I blurted out to the kind faced lady who'd just asked me a question at the OAC conference. It flew out of my mouth before I knew it, and while I stood behind the veracity of it, the delivery could have done with a little less vitriol. She looked at me and mustered up a feeble, "Ok," as she recomposed herself, having just been verbally beaten by the bellicose, belligerent, Black, belle. Feeling part victorious, part sheepish, I sashayed away still feeling a little surprised at the manner in which I answered the simple question, "Would you like your BMI checked?"

I don't think that BMI alone is an accurate measure of health. BMI is really nothing more than your weight.

Sure they take your weight and your height and put it into some fancy algorithm with some arbitrary number and extrapolate, contrapolate, multivide, and additionate to spit out a new number but it is no different than a weight chart. If you want to use it as some sort of proxy measure for health then you need to take a lot more factors into account or you can just accept that it isn't as good a measure as it might be.

BMI doesn't take body composition into account.

Body Mass Index is notoriously in accurate for athletes and for those who weight train. For these individuals it is quite easy for their weight to be skewed heavily into the overweight and obese categories. Arnold Schwarzenegger, one of the most lauded bodybuilders of all time......OBESE. You might argue that all you have to do is look at a person to know the difference between fauxbesity (don't you DARE steal my word!!) and real obesity, and that is true. But when things like insurance coverages are based blindly on that number, it is a real problem.


BMI doesn't take body frame into account.

Being big boned is not a myth and all bones don't weight the same regardless of what some snarky social media commenters like to say about it. There are measurable differences in body frame and this translates into measurable differences in weight.
"The standard is to use frame size in conjunction with height/weight charts and add roughly 10% for a large frame and subtract 10% for a small frame. For example, lets say that the ideal weight for a 5'10 man is 160. If a man has a small frame he may be overweight at 165 and should reduce by 10% to 150. In reverse a man with a large frame can be quite healthy at 180 lbs."  source

BMI doesn't take sex or age into account. 

There are evolutionary reasons that we gain weight after birth and with aging. I'll save those for another blog post.

BMI doesn't take race into account.

In layman's language, an Asian and a Caucasian can weigh exactly the same and be the same height, but the Asian is at greater risk for diabetes, hypertention, and other obesity related problems even at a "normal" BMI. 
Black women can weigh more than white women and still be healthy. Research has shown that "elevated BMI poses lower mortality risks for Blacks than Whites." source There is an obesity problem in the Black community and this is no defense or explanation for that. I'm talking about the people who may lie in the overweight portion of the chart and those that are just into the obesity category. Personally, I have NEVER had a normal BMI. In high school when I was a cheerleader, running track, and in the best shape of my life I was "overweight".

BMI doesn't take fabulosity into account.

As I walked the convention floor another lady, bespectacled and wearing a crisp white lab coat, walked up to me and asked, "Would you like your BMI checked?"
I turned to her and kindly replied, "I know what my height is and I know I weigh a hundred and ninety something pounds. I'm well aware that the BMI table says that's that I'm overweight or obese depending on the day of the month. So, no thank you."

Do you know what she said to me?

"Well I think you're beautiful either way."


  1. Did you see this article on CNN??

    LOVED it. And it makes sense. Otherwise, there is just no way you can take a standard table and apply it to men and woman, regardless of frame size, muscle mass (or lack of) and race.

    1. Thank you so much for the link to the article and your comments

    2. Yes! I was also going to link this. BMI IS TOTAL BS! If they were to do teh BMI of all olympic athelets, half would be overweight. *head shake*

  2. Dr. Sharma declared BMI to be DEAD recently.

    BMI has always been so flawed, it should have been obvious all along. I do have to admit I've been interested in trying out one of those Bod Pod things.

    1. Doctor Sharma needs to go on Facebook and declare that BMI is dead.

  3. Great post... I think there definitely need to modifications to how we assess and address being overweight.

  4. Girl, you are preaching to the choir! I've been saying this for years and although many are also aware of this I have seen many on FB wanna fight you tooth and nail that the BMI is accurate and the world should all go Vegan so they can be rail skinny as well. OK, I added that last bit but you can imagine the kind of conversations I've had about this.

  5. ***Applause***


  6. lol I never thought about this until my cousin told me that my primary doc was wrong about my weigh because I was told I was over weight and need to go on a diet and he showed me where I was suppose to be on the bmi char and at my age(19)I should be smaller than that. I couldn't believe it like I dont look 199 lbs and the biggest thing on my are my hips, thighs and breast so I began starving myself and not eating no more because of that. But now after this I have a new outlook thanx for posting this

  7. Hey, Could I copy the snapshot and make use of that on my webpage? Prediabetes symptoms


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