Proud2Bme | 5 Reasons Why BMI is a Waste of Time

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5 Reasons Why BMI is a Waste of Time

By Danielle Lowe--According to a study done by the International Journal of Obesity, 29% of obese and 16% of morbidly obese (according to Body Mass Index or BMI) participants were found to still be metabolically healthy. But over 30% of those who fell under the “normal” weight category were found to be metabolically unhealthy, putting them at risk for diabetes and heart disease. This is just one study that proves BMI is an ineffective way of measuring health.

Here are five reasons why BMI is so problematic:

1. It tells us that everyone of the same height is only healthy in one set range of weight.

In about 10 seconds, you can plug in your height and weight to a BMI (Body Mass Index) calculator and see if you are underweight, a healthy weight, overweight or obese. Down to the decimal. Doesn’t it seem strange that one calculation can tell us whether we are healthy? One reason BMI was created was so doctors had a quick, easy way to notify obese patients that they are at a high risk for health complications. However, healthy comes in lots of different sizes and the ‘quick and easy’ way doesn’t show the full picture.

2. BMI doesn’t take into account muscle mass or bones structure.

According to BMI, most professional athletes would be considered overweight or obese because much of their weight comes from their muscle mass. Some people also just have larger bone structures, causing their BMI to go up. Does that mean that they are unhealthy? Nope.

3. It wasn’t even originally created to be a health tool.

It was created two hundred years ago as an economic tool to create insurance premiums. So why is it one of the leading indicators of health now?

4. It gives the world all the wrong ideas about eating disorders.

BMI reaffirms society’s (and therefore sometimes ignorant insurance companies’) idea that fitting into the underweight or overweight category = sick and being at a “healthy” weight = not sick. But we know better; someone at a “healthy” BMI could be going through organ failure or struggling with depression that keeps them from being an active member of society.

5. It silences people who don’t know how to ask for help.

BMI is such a commonly-used word around eating disorders and health. Being an eating disorder sufferer who is in the healthy, overweight or obese category can lead to the belief that “it’s not bad enough” or that they are not worthy of help until they are in the underweight category.

About the blogger: Danielle Lowe is a 19-year-old LA native going to the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami. Danielle is currently studying music therapy and contemporary voice. In the future, she hopes to bring music therapy to more eating disorder treatment centers. In her free time, she enjoys petting any dogs she can find, going to concerts and eating ice cream sandwiches.

For more on BMI, check out:

Sunday Link Love: A Teen Takes Down the BMI, JLaw Gets Real on Body Image + More!

Weighing Kids At School: Bad Idea

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Proud2Bme is an online community created by and for teens. We cover everything from fashion and beauty to news, culture, and entertainment—all with the goal of promoting positive body image and encouraging healthy attitudes about food and weight.

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