Here's what I discussed:
What is it?
Body Mass Index (BMI) is a calculation that plots weight vs height, and results in mass. BMI includes our entire body, so fat, muscle, bone, organs, water. This is sometimes forgotten and instead we think that BMI indicates only our fat and our "bad" weight. This is not the case, and there is no bad weight!
Please remember that BMI is not a measure of body fat specifically.
Facts about BMI:
Interestingly, BMI was invented by a statistician (who was working for an insurance company at the time...). Most people assume it is a very scientific/medical assessment tool based on scientific research- but not so. I'm not sure if it is more annoying that it wasn't made by/with a medical professional, or that the person who created it did so for an insurance company!
Another interesting fact about BMI?
The scale we have today is not identical to what was originally created. The cut offs are different and changed overnight a while back. That meant that in an instant MILLIONS of people went from being "normal" BMI to "overweight", or "overweight" to "obese" etc etc. Considering the value we put on BMI, isn't it crazy to think that overnight it could change drastically? Our society decides medical treatment based on BMI and people place their own self-worth on their BMI. We need to do better.
What's more is that BMI doesn't tell us much about you or your health.
It can't tell us about your bone density or your %body fat, or anything else about the breakdown of your body mass- and yet people take BMI as a measure of fatness! You could be a very muscular person and have a high BMI that means "obese" but people look at you and see the image of health! It is also worth noting that being "underweight" on the scale is considered more dangerous for health than being "overweight", but that isn't often mentioned. We are so fearful of being too fat, we would rather be damagingly thin. In fact, being underweight increases risk of several diseases- including heart disease, which is often assumed to be an illness of larger bodies.
BMI also can't tell us anything about what is going on inside your body and mind- which is MUCH more important than your body's mass. BMI can't tell us about your blood glucose or cholesterol, or stress hormones, or about your diet, sleep hygiene, digestive health, your emotional health etc etc. All these things (and lots more) have an impact on our health and wellbeing and must be considered when we assess someone's health.
Why even use BMI then?
If BMI has so many problems, you might be wondering why it is measured at all?
Well it is simple. BMI is easy to measure. Healthcare services are stretched. BMI means they can take height and weight, and put people in a box/category, give them a leaflet about being fat, and get to their next patient. That is the reality right now- and I don't blame individual practitioners for it, it is a systemic issue. It is a lazy answer to public health issues and time constraints. I say, it is time to reevaluate!
Moral of the story:
Please don't take BMI to heart- don't put your health or self-worth on it. It means nothing.
Watch my rant here: