My massive body

As this article points out, the body mass index, or Quetelet index, was invented over 150 years ago by a Belgian “polymath” who was interested in a statistical correlation for populations of people rather than individuals. It is equal to your weight in kilograms divided by the square of your height in meters. The problem is that weight, generally speaking, ought to be proportional to height cubed. So increasing a person’s dimensions in a proportional way automatically increases his/her body mass index, even if body fat remains constant.

Using the BMI formula on my height, I “should” weigh 200 pounds, and then I’d still be on the hairy edge of “overweight.” This is patently ridiculous. I weighed more than that in high school when I was a virtual string bean. I’m not saying I don’t need to lose weight, I’m merely suggesting that the ectomorphs who popularized BMI so they could justify their pathetic, skinny, weak, and did I say pathetic? bodies, should back off lest they get beaten to a pulp by a mesomorph.

If you really want to know if you’re fat, look in the mirror (take your shirt off first, you idiot). I did that recently and, OK fine, I’m fat. But there’s no way I’m going to lose 50 pounds. My goal is to get down to 100 kilograms and buy 3-inch heels.

DadConspiracies08/04/10 2 comments


David • 08/05/10 6:51 PM:

BMI is stupid. And worse, it’s misused, misunderstood, inappropriate, flawed, and damaging. It’s misused because it is a terrible indicator of obesity. Now obesity is often defined as a BMI >30. Huh? Whuh? It just points out how dumb virtually all things related to nutrition, eating, and exercise are in our country. So wrong and so backwards.

It’s damaging in that people believe what so-called experts tell them about BMI. (since yesterday I heard on NPR and read on NYT and saw on NBC stuff about the new govt study on American obesity stats, blah blah. All of them sited BMI data). As if Americans’ body image problem isn’t bad enough? The thing is people think their bodies should conform to the BMI standards. For most people this is not realistic and often times damaging. I guess all women should look like SI swimsuit models.

BMI, as you know, doesn’t take into account body composition or body fat . People are different, it’s that simple. Tommy Thompson knows what I’m talking about. I have about 10-12 body fat and I probably in the 99% for health/fitness. Yet I am past the 1/2 way point on being overweight. And rather close to being obese. Virtually all NFL running backs are obese according to BMI. Here’s a study on athletes and BMI.

In closing, BMI is just another example of the way we do things now in America - short-cuts that are wrong and nonsensical and unhealthy. (add it to all food issues, most medical/pharmaceutical issues, ethanol for gas, etc.)

Wait, I just found this, and it will be my official closing… from NPR on the Top 10 Reasons Why the BMI is Bogus - read and listen to it. It’s good.

PS. Dad - please get a bike.

David • 08/06/10 10:30 AM:

This guy’s blog has a post on The Problem with BMI and it’s got a good list of athletes and buff actors (all overweight). I assume the calcs are correct.

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