BMI has been around forever. We’re used to thinking it as a number that’s synonymous with our health, both in general media and from doctors. Our weight and height are taken, and these two factors combine together in a mathematical equation to come up with our Body Mass Index. We are told we are supposed to fit within a specific range of these two numbers, and that our health can be determined by this number. If we’re under it or over it by any significant amount, we’re deemed unhealthy. But relying on BMI to determine health isn’t just a lazy healthcare practice, it can actually be dangerous. There are lots of really good reasons why we shouldn’t be using BMI to gauge our health, which makes it all the more confusing that doctors continue to recommend it.
It Wasn’t Originally Supposed To
Back in the nineteenth century, a Belgian statistician named Adolphe Quetelet came up with a measurement that observed the cross data between a person’s height and weight. His goal was to find what number, mathematically, made up the average man. He was on the hunt for numerical values that could make up the average person, including things like how many children a person has and their average height and weight. Statistics are highly simplistic but highly powerful tools for generalizing something in society, but the important thing to remember is that because statistics are so easy to formulate and generate with any manipulation of variables, they generally shouldn’t be used to draw conclusions about society as a whole. If statistical evidence proves that the average family as 2.4 children, the logical conclusion shouldn’t be that all families should have between two and three children otherwise they’re in danger of approaching a dangerous dynamic. If a family makes more money they may be able to safely and securely have a large number of children and raise them just as well as the “average” number. The average number is no indication of what’s best for the family, it’s simply an average. And BMI is much the same thing. It’s a measurement of where the average man and woman sit insofar as height and weight go. Given those dynamics, it’s difficult to see how large government organizations like the CDC can justify using it as any kind of measurement of health.
Is Tom Cruise Obese?
According to the BMI scale, he is. According to the CDC, any BMI over 30 qualifies as obese and at 5’7 and 201 lbs, Tom Cruise clocks in at a BMI of 31.5. It’s hard to argue that Arnold Schwarzenegger wasn’t in the height of physical fitness during his body building days, yet according to the BMI scale at just over six feet and about 235 lbs. also qualified as obese at a BMI of 31. The problem with BMI is that it only takes height and weight into consideration. Body frames vary from person to person, including things like bone density and how thick your frame is. The thicker your frame, the heavier your body is likely to be for it to stay healthy. It also doesn’t take into account muscle mass, and as we all know muscle is heavier than fat. Many pro athletes and Olympic competitors are also likely to be obese or overweight according to BMI, which only further proves how useless of a tool it is in regards to determining how healthy we actually are.
Fat Can Actually Be Good For You
Several recent medical studies have shown that people with some chronic illnesses actually need a higher body weight and health content to stay healthy. These studies specifically show that a higher BMI can protect a person from dying of heart failure and kidney failure as chronic illnesses can require that a person have higher energy reserves in order to combat them. A low BMI can also be an indicator that someone has a disease that has yet to be diagnosed, yet if BMI is relied on solely an individual may be praised for being healthy with no additional tests performed.