BMI Index: BMI Calculator Fails Once Again

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Maria Lorenz
Join me on my "I Fit and Healthy" journey! Maria is an Upstate New Yorker interested in all things healthy-living related! She started the "I Fit and Healthy" Blog to document life and her pursuit of healthy living. By day she work in digital media and advertising. By night she’s a first-rate wife and mom of two crazy little girls! She is self-proclaimed addicted to her iPhone/iPad and always on the hunt for the latest health tools and fitness gadgets.

Body Mass Index (BMI) and BMI Calculators have been the talk of a diet and fitness community for as long as I can remember.

On its website, The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) declares that BMI is a reliable indicator of body fatness, while National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute states that BMI is a measure of body fat.

It is no wonder that so many people continue using BMI to assess their body composition and weight loss progress.

Its use is not limited to the public alone. Health care professionals use BMI as well. In many states, it is one of the mandatory measurements for preschoolers and schoolchildren.

The connection between American obesity crisis and the use of BMI has not been established. This may sound a bit reaching, but I postulate that widespread use of BMI is an important contributing factor to American obesity crisis.

Can I prove it?

Well, no, I cannot prove it directly. As I mentioned such connection has not been scientifically established. However, I believe we have some indirect evidence that could reasonably lead us to this conclusion.

I think we can agree that improving our lean body mass to fat mass ration is an important component of our overall health, as well as a measure of a weight loss progress. What is a national standard to measure this ratio? Well, it is BMI.

The problem is that BMI has proven to be inaccurate and confusing. For instance, Slightly Overweight: Increased Health Risk? article provides evidence of contradictions in a number of BMI based studies.

Another recent study concluded, “BMI fails as a cardiovascular risk factor“. It also found that “BMI cannot discriminate between body fat and lean mass”.

How can this be? CDC claims that BMI is a reliable indicator of body fatness. How can it be reliable if it cannot tell the difference between fat and muscle?

But wait, the best is yet to come. After analyzing 250,152 patients, this same study “proved” that obesity is harmlessif we were to believe BMI numbers, because normal-BMI patients had higher mortality than an overweight group with established coronary artery disease.

These are just a few examples of how misleading BMI figures can be. Does BMI contribute to obesity crisis? If millions of Americans rely on this method to be accurate, it could be a contributing factor.

What do you think?


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