Monday, July 06, 2009

Damn, something intelligent from NPR

Top 10 Reasons Why The BMI Is Bogus

I decided that years ago, having seen people in good shape, healthy who were either 'overweight' or 'obese' according to this scale. I worked the formula, and according to it I should weigh around 150-155; at which weight I'd look emaciated. In the best shape I've ever been in, working out 3-4 times a week, I weighed more than that.

Oh, as to the formula,
1. The person who dreamed up the BMI said explicitly that it could not and should not be used to indicate the level of fatness in an individual.

The BMI was introduced in the early 19th century by a Belgian named Lambert Adolphe Jacques Quetelet. He was a mathematician, not a physician. He produced the formula to give a quick and easy way to measure the degree of obesity of the general population to assist the government in allocating resources. In other words, it is a 200-year-old hack.

2. It is scientifically nonsensical.

There is no physiological reason to square a person's height (Quetelet had to square the height to get a formula that matched the overall data. If you can't fix the data, rig the formula!). Moreover, it ignores waist size, which is a clear indicator of obesity level.

3. It is physiologically wrong.

It makes no allowance for the relative proportions of bone, muscle and fat in the body. But bone is denser than muscle and twice as dense as fat, so a person with strong bones, good muscle tone and low fat will have a high BMI. Thus, athletes and fit, health-conscious movie stars who work out a lot tend to find themselves classified as overweight or even obese.

And there's seven more reasons to go!

1 comment:

Vinnie said...

When I tried to join the army at 18 they said I would need to get down to 165. My doctor told me he would have me admitted to the hospital at 180.