For a long time people have been calculating their body mass index (BMI) to figure out if they are a healthy weight for their height.
The idea behind BMI is that you divide your weight by your height squared and depending on the number that pops out you will be considered either ‘normal’, ‘overweight’ or ‘obese.’ Not only are these labels demoralising, they’re not necessarily accurate.
BMI as a form of measurement is almost 200 years old! It was developed as a way to identify obesity trends in an entire population – not as a way to determine an individual’s health or body composition.
Here are two good reasons why you shouldn’t consider your BMI as gospel:
- BMI doesn’t take muscle into account
The BMI does not factor in fat verse muscle composition. Given that muscle weighs more than fat, you may be a very fit person (with minimal body fat) and yet your BMI puts you in the ‘obese’ category. For example, an Arnold Schwarzenegger-esque front row footballer might have the same BMI as a couch potato of similar height. BMI also doesn’t take bone density into account.
- BMI doesn’t take into account where your fat is located
Carrying fat around your belly area (visceral fat) is more dangerous from a health perspective than peripheral fat which is distributed beneath your skin. This means that two people could have the same BMI but the one with a greater proportion of fat around the middle section is likely to be at higher risk of obesity related diseases.
My advice is to ditch the BMI and concentrate on how strong, fit and healthy you feel – if it starts getting hard to do up your favourite jeans it might be time to assess your weight.