I’ve seen several articles recently complaining about the inaccuracies of body mass index (BMI) calculations, so I thought it might be time to address this issue. BMI is a formula that uses height and weight to approximate a person’s amount of body fat. It then classifies each person into one of 4 weight ranges – underweight, normal, overweight and obese.
One article I read started out by claiming, according to his BMI number, Arnold Schwarzenegger would be classified as obese. Another article said that various celebrities including Will Smith, NBA star Kobe Bryant and US Olympic sprinter Shawn Crawford would be classified as obese by their BMI numbers. So, how can your BMI number be believed?
First, let’s be clear: If you’re like me, then you’re no Arnold Schwarzenegger (or Will Smith, or Kobe Bryant, or Shaw Crawford either). These celebrities are exceptions to the rule. They carry a much higher percentage of muscle than normal people do and, since muscle is heavy, it skews their BMI number. To use a few “exceptional cases” as evidence to “disprove” the entire method is false logic. That would be like “proving” that smoking doesn’t contribute to lung cancer because some smokers live well into their 80s or 90s and die of natural causes. I don’t think anyone today would try to make that argument.
Others say that BMI is inaccurate because it doesn’t take into account waist size, or bone structure or some other factor. This goes back to the claim above. There will always be exceptions to the rule. Yes, it may be possible to have a thin waist and still have a high BMI. It is also possible to be “big boned” and thin, but still have a high BMI. Ask yourself though, is that really you? For the vast majority of us, thinking about all the “corner cases” where BMI is inaccurate isn’t helpful.
Chart for Calculating BMI
Is BMI perfect? No, and I don’t think anyone would claim that it is. I do find it curious that all the articles I read that claim BMI is bogus try to “prove” their claims by showing that people with higher BMIs are not actually fat. This might just be wishful thinking!
The bottom line is this: BMI is not perfect; no single measurement of your health is. But, it is a quick and easy measurement that almost anyone can do. BMI can be a good general indicator of your overall fitness. Use the chart above to calculate your own BMI. If you find yourself out of the “normal” range, then you should take that to heart and do something about it.
Remember, healthy choices you make each day can transform your family for generations! What choices will you make today?
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You may also want to read: Exercise: It Can Be About More Than Health, Is Organic Really Worth the Cost?, Know What You’re Eating With Fooducate