First of all, sorry for the naughty word, but this one annoys me immensely – i’ll explain why in LOTS of detail and hopefully you’ll share my hate for this too. Please be sure to share this with as many people as you can – lets try and start an ANTI-BMI revolution!
FIRSTLY – WHAT IS THE BMI?
The BMI stands for Body Mass Index.
“Devised between 1830 and 1850 by the Belgian polymath Adolphe Quetelet during the course of developing “social physics”, it is defined as the individual’s body mass divided by the square of their height – with the value universally being given in units of kg/m2.” – Wikipedia’s description of it.
The Daniel Wheeler description is this “An utterly useless scale of someones body status designed by someone who knew fuck all about nothing”.
The BMI has a very simple calculation to formulate your score:
BMI = weight (kg) / height (cm)2
So, taking me as an example. I’m 193cm tall and currently sitting at 114.6kg – lets call it 115 for arguments sake. Using the above calculation i have a BMI score of 30.9.
Now, what does that mean? Below is a chart showing you where you sit on the BMI scale: –
- Underweight = <18.5
- Normal weight = 18.5–24.9
- Overweight = 25–29.9
- Obesity = BMI of 30 or greater
So, as you can see i appear to be Obese…. once again! (for those who don’t know, i used to be quite fat)
WHAT DOES ALL THIS MEAN?
It means absolutely JACK SH!T! The image attached is a graph visually showing you where myself and some of the Life Changing Fitness elite coaches sit on the BMI scale. As you can see, according to the BMI we are all either obese or overweight. I should, at this point, clarify that we all have visible abs… I should further clarify that Chris Shelmo is 3 weeks out from competition and sub 7% body fat, yet still classed as overweight.
The problem i have with the BMI is that the government use the BMI as an industry standard and impose it on all forms of medical and educational industries. Here are a few SCARY examples…
Your doctor will prescribe you “some” medicine based on your BMI – yep, thats right! Some meds will be based on if you’re classed as obese or overweight, or even underweight.
When a personal trainer trains to take their test (which is a laughable qualification in many ways anyway – a rant for another time) one of the first things they teach you is the BMI and how to use that with your future clients to asses their “health” status.
Schools are now looking to weigh children to check their BMI and asses whether they should partake in sports, what lunches to give them and if there parents should be notified so they can, and i quote from the news this morning, “take their children to their GP for fat loss advice”….. I heard this and was speechless. But i got over it and thought id put it to bed on Facebook 😉
SO WHY IS THE BMI SO BAD?
The BMI only takes two metrics into account… height and weight. Here are just a few other measurements that one would need to take before even uttering the words “over weight” or “obese”: –
- Muscle Mass %
- Fat mass %
- Bone Density
- Body placement measurements
Once you have all those figures, only then can we truly say if someone is “underweight, normal, overweight or obese”. Now don’t get me wrong, we can all look at someone and make a presumption that they are overweight or obese – i do it daily as my job. That doesn’t take a genius – however, thats just an observation forming an opinion. What we HAVE to do and NEED to do is get a specific numeric statistic to work with for people. Something a hell of a lot more specific than “30.9” because i weigh a certain amount and of a certain height.
WHEN SHOULD YOU USE THIS AND HOW SHOULD YOU PROCEED?
Never, ever, ever use this scale as any form of any measure of current body status. Its just crazy to think that all the above is going on based on the most simple calculation my nephew could have invented. Sure, there are slight variations of the BMI these days – which now include your age and gender, but even then they are vastly inaccurate still.
If you’re a parent, i would strong advise that you discuss this matter with your school council if your child is assessed using this scale.
If you’re looking to start a diet / fat loss journey, i would strongly advise you to NEVER listen to anyone who even utters the words BMI! In fact…. slap them and say “you’ve just been Wheelered”
If you’re a PT/coach and still use the BMI as a factor – please please please change jobs now.
If you’re a doctor and prescribing medication based on the BMI, and only this scale, you need to retake that oath and go back to school – primary school!
SO TO SUM UP….
The BMI is terrible. Its one of the most destructive things psychologically for many adults and children and i’m genuinely scared for the nation that this is still used as an industry standard.
Please ignore it like the plague.
If you would like to genuinely know your health/body fat status, then id recommend visiting a reputable coach or sports facility. They will be able to take you through a variety of questions, measurements and tests to give you a pretty exact report/feedback on your current status.
Other than all the coaches at Life Changing Fitness, id recommend the following reputable Coaches/Companies if you’re looking to take it further (in alphabetical order): –
- Adam Parr
- Andy McKenzie
- Ben Coomber (BTN)
- Emma Storey Gordon
- Fabio Bonanno
- Kirk Miller
- Luke Johnson
- Nick Walsh
- Phil Learney and/or anyone at UP Fitness
- Rachel Hobbs
- Scott Babptie
- Tom Brazier
- Zac Fotheringham