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

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12 Responses to Is Body Mass Index (BMI) Really Bogus?

  1. Great article – I never understood the purpose for doing the BMI measurement – but you helped me to get that it’s an indicator of overall fitness and a good thing to know that may help motivate change if necessary.

    Thanks!
    Amethyst Wyldfyre recently posted..Advice for Small Business Owners – Referrals are the CAT’s Meow!My Profile

    • Vitaerobics says:

      Each measurement or indicator has its own flaws – none is really perfect and there will always be exceptions to the rule. But, using BMI as a general guideline can be very helpful.

  2. J. Winslow says:

    Very interesting… But I am curious: Is there a way to easily measure my own BMI, or do I need one of those fancy instruments?
    J. Winslow recently posted..Your tribe IS looking for you…My Profile

    • Vitaerobics says:

      Yep, there sure is and easy way to measure BMI. You can just use the chart in the article. Of course, there are more scientific ways to measure it and they can be a bit more accurate, but if you’re just using BMI as a guide (which we suggest), then the chart is fine.

  3. Thank you for reminding us that there are always exceptions to the rule. One size does NOT fit all. I think if we use this as a guideline along with common sense and do our homework, we know where we fall. I like the philosophy of listening to your body, understanding it’s language. Being overweight is a symptom for a bigger problem. Get to the REAL problem and the weight comes off.

    • Vitaerobics says:

      Yes, Julie, you have the right approach. We have found that, if you make healthy choices and really understand the “why” behind your eating habits, then your body will find its “natural” weight and dieting will be a thing of the past.

  4. Karin says:

    I didn’t know there was such a debate about the BMI measurement. However, it did help my daughter when she was thinking she was fat and I showed her according to her BMI she was actually underweight. But then we did the same on our dog and she was grossly overweight…guess it wasn’t meant for the dog either. ;-)
    Karin recently posted..Take the High Road to PeaceMy Profile

  5. You know, I always wondered about this type of measurement! Thanks for the clarity. My measurement is if I can fit in last year’s jeans!
    Rebecca Skeele recently posted..3-Day Virtual Game-Changer Symposium: The 2012 Homestretch Oct 2, 3, 4My Profile

  6. Great article, as always, Michael! I have found the BMI to seem pretty accurate when using it for myself, and thankfully, my score is “orange” or, “healthy weight”. As you know it didn’t used to be that way (I was overweight according to this but having been 50 lbs overweight, I think by some standards I would have been obese..?) so I’m very, very grateful!!
    Tricia Greaves Nelson recently posted..5 Reasons People Don’t Recover from AddictionsMy Profile

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