The Problems With BMI


In case you’re unfamiliar, Body Mass Index (BMI) is a screening tool that “tells” whether someone is underweight, overweight, obese, or at a healthy weight.

That’s the theory, at least.

It’s calculated using a combination of a person’s weight and height. As such, there are some clear problems with BMI.

Does Your BMI Say You’re Carrying Excess Weight?

More and more people are pursuing a better diet and increasing exercise for controlling their weight. And yet, a healthy and fit person can get a BMI number that shows up in the ‘excess weight’ range. This can leave them concerned about their appearance and even drive them to plastic surgery for tummy tucks and liposuction.

Now, there are clear cases where the BMI is right on track. For someone who is morbidly obese, it’s not difficult to see that their number would be on the high end.

But when you simply multiply a person’s weight in pounds by 703 and then divide that number by their height in inches squared, there are MANY factors that aren’t considered. These include age, sex, ethnicity, and muscle mass.

The Problems with BMI

The BMI is not an inherently bad or flawed system. It enables doctors to track weight status across an entire population so that they can identify potential problems in individual cases. Unfortunately it has become a tool to measure the level of fatness in an individual.

This was never the intention.

In fact, the BMI was introduced in the early 1800s by a mathematician who produced the formula to measure the degree of obesity in the general population. The purpose of which was to provide the government with these figures so they could accurately allocate resources. The mathematician was quick to point out that the BMI should NOT be used to indicate one’s level of fatness.

Looking at this formula some 200 years later and there’s no true physiological reason that one would square a person’s height. It just doesn’t make sense.

Other Factors Where BMI Is Lacking

One of the best indicators of obesity levels is one’s waist size. This is completely ignored in formulating one’s BMI.

The logic behind the whole index is off too. Obviously, if someone is noticeably fat or obese, he or she will have a high BMI. But when someone has a high BMI, we cannot automatically assume they are obese or overweight.

That’s because it also takes no consideration of the proportions of bone to muscle to fat. Bones are heavier and more dense than muscles and fat. So someone with large and healthy bones with toned muscle and little fat can be easily classified as overweight or even obese.

And yet, in a society so hooked on numbers and stats, individuals begin to question their appearance and level of fitness based on a silly number. But since it comes from a mathematical formula, then it must be true science.

It’s not.

What makes one person overweight, another underweight, and another at a healthy weight relies on so many factors. As such, many members of the medical establishment would like to do away with the BMI. And sooner rather than later.

How Do You Feel In Your Body?

Given the problems with BMI calculations, the better question should be concerned with how you feel in your body.

If you’re feeling good about yourself and confident in your appearance, then take that BMI number with a grain of salt.

On the other hand, if you have problem areas that embarrass you or extra fat that just won’t go away no matter how much you diet and exercise, then plastic surgery could be the perfect solution for you. If so, contact us today.

We don’t use BMI to determine who’s a good candidate for surgery. Instead, we look at the patient’s overall health and the location of the desired improvement as main indicators of surgical candidacy. So reach out today.