BMI: Worthwhile or Worthless?

  • bigguysf

    Posts: 329

    Oct 07, 2009 8:09 PM GMT
    I am squeezing in my "Wellness" participation for my employer-based health plan, and saw a video yesterday on healthy weight goals. When I followed the instructions for my BMI it came out to a 29, which is right on the cusp between being "overweight" and "obese". icon_eek.gif

    As soon as I saw the number I knew this was a ridiculous measurement for a person with my body type i.e. very athletic and muscular with low body fat. Today we got an email from the wellness company that just happened to be on healthy weights and your BMI. It included this disclaimer:
    [quote]Remember that BMI is not accurate for someone who carries more muscle mass than an average person. [/quote]

    So I guess my question is what's the point of a widely-accepted parameter for a healthy body (that is also used to rate people like me in my employee-based health plan) if it doesn't accurately measure 'squat' for a large section of the population? icon_question.gif
  • jarhead5536

    Posts: 1348

    Oct 07, 2009 8:45 PM GMT
    BMI is bogus for anyone really into weight training. I am 5'10", 170 pounds, and technically borderline overweight by this measure (24.4). This with a 30 inch waist! The BMI encourages us to be far thinner than any serious athlete can be and remain competitive...
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    Oct 07, 2009 9:04 PM GMT
    BMI is useful only for the average, sedentary -or minimal activity- individual. It is not for very athletic people or the elderly. In the case of the athlete, the extra muscle mass gives a high BMI, even though there is very little fat. It's the reverse for the elderly because they can be at a "normal" weight but have very little muscle mass, and worse, visceral fat. When I test my clients for body fat, they often ask about BMI. I tell them not to worry about it. I'd say worthless for the athlete or relatively in shape person.
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    Oct 07, 2009 9:14 PM GMT
    We had a similar problem in the US Army, in that our height-weight standards and anthropomorphic measurements would reject not only truly fat soldiers, but also those who were extremely muscular. Among those who fell outside the acceptable model were soldiers with a wrestler's build, and those of Polynesian descent, particularly from US Samoa.

    For them, their recourse was an individual exam by an Army physician. And even then, the verdict might be that they were "muscle bound" and prone to medical problems for having too much muscle mass, and were therefore rejected for further military service. And they had to go through this annually, for our recurring PT test and medical examination. That was a few years back, and I hope the issue is a little better resolved today, but it illustrates the problems inherent with rigid models of body fitness.
  • Glorfindel

    Posts: 277

    Oct 07, 2009 11:30 PM GMT
    Worthless. I'm 6'1 and 175. If I gained 5-10 more pounds, I'd be considered overweight according to the BMI.... Everyone tells me I need to put on more weight because I'm too damned skinny.

    If I dropped weight down to the lower limit of my BMI range, I'd look anorexic. icon_sad.gif
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    Oct 07, 2009 11:57 PM GMT
    I believe there are a few methods to calculate BMI and some may be more useful and accurate than others. I'm not sure calculating simply base on height and weight or stepping on one of the electronic scales is reliable.

    I'm not the expert but have had one test done where you have an electronic curruent run through you and it reads/calculates you BMI - i believe it measures you like water content to muscle mass or something to that nature.

    Interesting that in my new 2010 wellness benefits package there was a "health quote" test one could take. It was packed full of questions and one was "what is your BMI". Results were to point out areas of improvement and/or benchmark your lifestyle to health. If BMI is not important why would a question like that be considered to evaluate your health?
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    Oct 08, 2009 12:15 AM GMT
    If you like what you see in the mirror then don't worry about it.

    If you don't like what you see then consider it.

    If you are training to compete in a comp then worry about it.

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    Oct 08, 2009 12:26 AM GMT
    It's useful to tell how bulky someone is. I know a BMI of 28 may mean a lot of muscle or a lot of fat or a mix of both, but either way it tells me this guy is very bulky, which is all I need to know, as far as my taste for men is concerned.
  • bigguysf

    Posts: 329

    Oct 08, 2009 1:41 AM GMT
    bachian saidIt's useful to tell how bulky someone is. I know a BMI of 28 may mean a lot of muscle or a lot of fat or a mix of both, but either way it tells me this guy is very bulky, which is all I need to know, as far as my taste for men is concerned.


    Take a look at my pics Bachian ... I don't think I would be considered bulky by most standards. I play lots of tennis, take occasional dance classes, and do a fair bit of cardio on the other days when not doing either of those. So I don't know if that's an accurate assessment either.
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    Oct 08, 2009 10:46 PM GMT
    bigguysf saidTake a look at my pics Bachian ... I don't think I would be considered bulky by most standards. I play lots of tennis, take occasional dance classes, and do a fair bit of cardio on the other days when not doing either of those. So I don't know if that's an accurate assessment either.


    Big, it's all relative... you look perfectly proportional, but if I stood right in front of you, my frame would look very thin in comparison. Even guys with BMI as low as 24 look bulky next to me (or above me icon_lol.gif ) Right now my BMI is a mere 21,68.
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    Oct 09, 2009 1:47 AM GMT
    the BMI is always right.
    You're all a bunch of big, fat and obese cheese doritos munchers!

    ... hoho.. *runs*
  • TexanMan82

    Posts: 893

    Oct 09, 2009 1:50 AM GMT
    It's a good chart for the majority of people. Most people are not athletes, bodybuilders, or serious weight trainers.

    But, for those Americans that do live in a weight room, it isn't very accurate.