Monday, February 4, 2013

Massive Bodyness Redux

A recent article from the BBC caught my eye, especially after writing down my previous thoughts on the never quite solid Body Mass Index (BMI). An Oxford mathematician calculated a new version of the BMI which actually lowers the dreaded number for taller people and raises it for shorter people. Yay for us tall people! 

But while this means all of a sudden I'm smack dab in "normal" weight territory as opposed to just balancing on the cusp, it doesn't mean we should all be jumping onto this new design.

To quote the report:

"Are these numbers "right"? No! -- for human beings are complicated, and any BMI formula will deliver just one number. No single number can be right, and indeed, the extreme reliance of today's medical and insurance establishments on a simple formula worries me a great deal."

And then the final sentences:

"Obesity will be one of the biggest health issues worldwide of the 21st century. If great reliance is going to be placed on a single formula for assessing it, the justification of that formula deserves careful discussion."

It's true. We've spend a worrisome amount of time on our whole health, appearance and daily maintenance regimes all because of a a single number. 

So even me, who would now be out of the "danger zone", is not gleeful. In fact I almost feel like I've been grade-grubbing for a few years, only to finally receive the better grade and now I don't really care any more.

That's not to say that you shouldn't be concerned if your BMI is placed in the Obese/Very Obese area of the scale. There's no way you can claim that it's "all muscle and not fat". And the same goes for the Underweight part of the scale. But the majority of people who hover around the middle areas and are still considered overweight are being fed a very vague message, based on an old and inexact scientific method. I didn't need that new number to tell me I was doing good. And I feel sorry for my "height-challenged" friends who now have been told they're NOT doing as well.

I'll just stick to being healthy instead of "suddenly normal."


“Does the BMI Need Correcting?” BBC, January 29, 2013, sec. Magazine.

“New BMI (New Body Mass Index).” Accessed February 4, 2013.

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