Going to the doctor on a regular basis, getting the recommended blood tests and even taking the occasional physical measurement are all important things we can do to improve our health and change our body. However, when it comes to our body-mass index or BMI, measurements can be misleading.
The medical community will frequently use BMI, a ratio that compares your weight and height measurements (weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared), as a tool to help classify you as obese, overweight, normal or underweight.
And while this has been somewhat helpful for conducting epidemiological studies over the years, it fails to take into account a few important variables. This can place people into categories where they don’t belong.
So why shouldn’t you let your BMI number upset you? I have three major reasons right here!
- It’s just a number: The BMI is simply a ratio, an index and a simple tool. Just like a scale, a number isn’t what defines your worth, effort or ability. Easier said than done though, right?
- It neglects lean body mass: The BMI is often criticized for not taking into account lean body mass, which often places someone into an overweight or obese category. For example, according to a menshealth.com article, Dwayne Johnson, “The Rock,” would fall into the obese category based on his BMI! Of all the people whom you might consider obese, someone as physically fit as Dwayne Johnson would not typically come to mind!
- Better tools are available: The BMI isn’t the best tool to assess whether people are at risk for disease. There’s a problem when muscular and fit people can be considered obese based on their BMI and more petite people who eat poorly and are extremely inactive can fall into a normal category! Wouldn’t you agree? A waist-to-hip ratio or other such measurement can be more effective.
- Bodies are varied: Thankfully, we’re all different. Beauty, fitness and even what is considered “ideal” are subjective. There isn’t a magical number or a size that we should fit into. While we should strive to be healthy and maintain our weight in a certain range to keep chronic diseases at bay and live well, a tool like the BMI that was created more than a century ago shouldn’t define our worth or tell us whether we‘re healthy.