WIAW #9: BMI Isn’t The Ultimate Indication of Health

Alternate post title…”BMI is BS”, but that seemed like a bit much. Keepin PG around here. 

It’s WIAW which means I’m here to share my day of eats with you all. As promised on Monday, I’m diving into a heavier topic (#pungamestrong) that hopefully will make you think a little and even encourage you.

A conversation with my family on Sunday actually inspired this post. We were talking about weight classifications and BMI, and I shared that in my opinion, weight isn’t important but that overall lifestyle is the best indicator of health. I was met with debate, which was slightly irritating, but it did get me thinking…so I whipped out my handy dandy computer and did a little research.

breakfastbake
Cora’s Peanut Flour Baked Pancake// peanut butter// banana// gojis

First, let’s start with the BMI chart. It was created in the 1830s by a man named Lambert Adolphe Jacques Quetelet. Wait stop right here…the 1830s! We’re still using a chart that was developed in the 1830s?!? It has been updated since then, but come on people, it’s obvious that it’s outdated. I took the time to find some articles from well respected sources that explain, better than I can, the issues with using the BMI scale as an overall health measure.

Beyond BMI via Slate

Why BMI Isn’t the Best Measure for Weight (or Health) via TIME

BMI: Why Body Mass Index Isn’t the Best Measure of a Healthy Weight via Huffington Post

What Your BMI Doesn’t Tell You via WebMD

schoollunch-1
Salad with beets, avocado, tomatoes hidden under spinach// hummus// wasa crackers

So why do we still use it? I don’t know exactly, but I imagine it’s because we haven’t found another method that can be used across the board to determine health. That’s the problem though! This method completely neglects the person as a whole. It just looks at their height and weight. What about their diet, level of physical activity, relationships, and mental health? Those are just environmental factors. Actual physical factors could be cholesterol levels, body fat, liver function, and heart health. A BMI scale or weight calculation can’t measure any of that.

honeycrisp
Apple// cashew larabar (unpictured)

As for weight as a health measurement…have you ever thought about what you’re actually weighing when you weigh yourself? It’s not just fat cells. It’s not even mostly fat cells. It’s water. It’s bone. It’s muscle and tissues and organs.

Bottom Line: Weight and BMI can not accurately measure your overall wellness. They’re just numbers. 

sweetpotatoandhummus
Sweet tater// hummus// broccoli

Your overall health can not be determined by these numbers. Okay brace yourselves, Vangie’s about to say something a little shocking.

I think people who are considered ‘overweight’ can be just as healthy or healthier than someone who is ‘skinny’ and in the normal weight range. Healthy is not a size or shape, it’s a way of life, and it’s different for every person.

datesandchocolate
dates// chocolate

I will end by saying that BMI and weight are still useful in some situations. However, as a holistic measurement of health, they leave a lot to be desired.  

Linking up with Laura today. Happy Wednesday friends.

Bye loves ❤


So tell me…

What are your thoughts on BMI and using weight measurements as a health indicator?

Tell me something yummy you ate today. 

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17 thoughts on “WIAW #9: BMI Isn’t The Ultimate Indication of Health

  1. Yep, it is a difficult debate whether we should still even use BMI standards anymore. I am 100% in agreeance with all that you’ve said, and that weight in regards to height has very little to do with overall health and is undermining so many other, much more important factors. One other addition is that what is “healthy” for one may not be as healthy for another… for instance maybe one person needs to be so called “overweight” to get health back. The only place that I do see using BMI as, I guess, necessary, is in eating disorder/weight gain programs where people are needing to get back to a base line of health. Neither the patient nor the doctors know where this persons’ true weight/health will lie, so they need somewhere to shoot for that they now will at least be “close.” The health professionals need to use BMI just as a standard for the weight to shoot for, BUT it must be known at that time that this may not be the “end” number and that there are many other factors that still need to be addressed.

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    1. I agree with everything here. If someone is struggling with weight gain or loss, it can be helpful to use the BMI as a general measurement, but once they’re at a healthy place, it’s a good idea to ditch the numbers game and just work on living healthfully and in a balanced manner…which is super hard I might add 🙂

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  2. I can’t even tell you how many doctors have told me that I am “overweight” according to BMI standards, only to look at me and say “but you don’t look overweight.” Huh? That’s seriously your “expert” opinion doc? UGH!! It’s so annoying and frustrating. I am 100% in favor of doing away with the BMI chart!

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    1. No way. That’s absolutely ridiculous. I get so blown away by some doctors and their lack of knowledge about health. I mean…they’re DOCTORS. They’re supposed to know these things. That’s another reason why I think much of western medicine is a whole lot of phooey. It’s so focused on numbers, measurements, and calculations, it leaves out the individuality and unique nature of humans.

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  3. I LOVE THIS. I think we can get overfocused on one number, and we forget the overall picture of health of the mind, body, and soul. BMI can’t tell you that. Thank you so much for doing the research and sharing this with us.

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    1. Agreed, Em. We definitely live in a numbers focused culture. Money, calories, possessions, degrees, cars, weight, are all measurable things, but they really are no indication of who we are as a person or our holistic health. I think the best, healthiest things can’t be measured with numbers. Like how we love people, our ability to listen, or our willingness to learn, just to name a few.

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  4. Clients ask me about BMI often, as many don’t understand what it means. As a practitioner, it’s not a measure I use. However, for clients who want to lose weight, it can be encouraging for them to see it decrease. It’s definitely not a number to fixate on, and fails to consider muscle, among everything else you listed 🙂

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  5. Absolutely. I so agree with all of what you’ve said in this post. If you haven’t had a chance to check out Your Eatopia’s fat series, you really should. It’s amazing: http://www.youreatopia.com/blog/2012/1/11/fat-no-more-fear-no-more-contempt-part-ix.html
    There’s also Health At Every Size: http://www.lindabacon.org/haesbook/ and The Fat Nutritionist http://www.fatnutritionist.com/
    Sorry if I’m loading you with sites you already know about. I’m basically just saying, it’s so true.

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  6. Love Joyce’s comment! BMI has never been something I’ve focused on, I don’t even know what mine is. Also, there are those people who look naturally thin, but have terrible insides. In my class this morning I learned that otherwise seemingly healthy people wake up with a glucose level of over 100! Over 85 is considered pre-diabetic. You can never know how healthy a person is by looking at them.

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  7. From what I understand, BMI is useful in population based studies. However, a lot of studies have show that people with the lowest all cause mortality tend to have BMI that’s considered overweight… go figure. I’m against using weight as an indicator of heath in general. There as so many more important factors!

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    1. Hmm…I agree that BMI can be useful for a generalized measure to use in statistical analysis of a population. That makes sense, but as an overall indicator of health, I think it falls short. But that’s just me 🙂 And I’m def not any kind of professional 🙂

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