Feeling Fat? Don't Measure Your Weight Loss This Year With BMI

Feeling Fat? Don't Measure Your Weight Loss This Year With BMI

Why you shouldn't use those height-versus-weight BMI charts to measure your 2015 fitness goals.

Read Full Article

Yeah, it's odd that people use such an arbitrary system from almost 200 years ago, and put such faith in it.

BMI is the most ridiculous thing. We do yearly tests to get money off our healthcare premiums every year. All my numbers are fantastic but my BMI (BUN and BUN/creatine were off, but that is because of a high protein diet). It was at 33.4, which is obese by the numbers. I go to the gym 5 days a week. I lift weights like a mad man. I weighed 255 at 6'3" with a 36" waste this past year and my diet was only consisting of about 2200 calories a day (macros counted). I may be in the best physical shape out of everyone in the building. I got a full discount, but that doesn't prevent them sending me literature telling me how much danger I am in for being obese. It's laughable.

thaluikhain:
Yeah, it's odd that people use such an arbitrary system from almost 200 years ago, and put such faith in it.

It's useful still. It seems archaic, but it matches with how modern medicine views disease risk. My numbers listed above make me at "higher risk" for metabolic syndrome (diabetes), but those correlations don't mean much on their own, which is why it's not the only thing looked at. For instance, I'm not realistically at risk for diabetes because my blood sugar and A1c are fantastic. I'm not at risk for heart disease because my total cholesterol is lower than what they want to see your LDL's alone at. Both of these things, in combination with a BMI in the obese range increases my risks for these things.

It's just not useful at all for determining anything by itself as it's a single risk factor. One symptom is not a symptom of anything. For example: Imagine you urinate often, say 14 times a day. Now, go find out what that could be and you find it's a symptom of 12 things. Now look at all the other symptoms for those 12 things and you have none of them. That means that frequent urination is not a symptom of those 12 disorders. I'm not saying there isn't anything wrong with you, or that you should go get checked at a doctor, but it's not something that should keep you up at night.

EDIT: I never commented on the article. BMI typically uses height and weight measurements thrown in with waist (true waist) measurements. Caliper tests are generally considered the best of the easy methods, using that to determine bodyfat is not the same as figuring out your BMI. BMI is a ridiculous chart they threw in your face in grade school. If you were lucky, the chart differentiated between the three common body types. No matter what, my BMI has been high for my whole life because, as the article points out, it's not useful for individuals (people seem to like the idea that of society is 60% likely to do something, then individuals are 60%, but that isn't how it works).

If you are interested in losing weight, never ever ever look at your BMI. Losing weight is easy, it can be done almost exclusively with a better diet, though I caution you to beware the dreaded "skinny fat" classification of people. Physical exercise is always great to ad but it's not necessary for weight loss.

I had to get a waiver when I joined the Navy because I was obese on the BMI, they used body taping to determine muscle/fat easily. But the military does a lot of stupid shit.

newwiseman:
I had to get a waiver when I joined the Navy because I was obese on the BMI, they used body taping to determine muscle/fat easily. But the military does a lot of stupid shit.

The Navy's absurd reliance on BMI as a Pass/Fail part of the bi-annual fitness test(PRT) is one(of many reasons) I'm getting out in May(and going on terminal in March, so no more military weigh-ins for me). Oh, I can pass the PRT with no problems, get a better run time then most of the people I work with, and max out push-ups and sit ups.

But since I have a big frame, I'm "Fat" and would have supervisors verbally beat me up over it because apparently having 22% BMI is all that matters to them. I admit, there was some small measure of satisfaction when one of those same people throwing up after the 1.5 mile run, even though he's 18% body fat and thus "fit".

The fact the tape method is incredibly inaccurate(it can easily add 5%-10% to body fat percentage) doesn't seem to bother the Navy much.

I'm bang in the middle of normal BMI, so I'm going to keep using it. Keep yer filthy pincers away from me, I might not look as good!

While BMI isn't ideal it does generally work for most people, otherwise it wouldn't be useful even to insurance companies. I'm not an body builder, I'm not hopelessly entrenched in one band and I'm not old enough to need the extra pounds. Aiming for a BMI in the normal scale and staying there does work for me.

I just follow the trousers-method. Trousers still fit? Good job! Trousers too tight? Better get some extra exercise and be more mindful of what you eat.

Hasn't failed me yet.

Rack:
While BMI isn't ideal it does generally work for most people, otherwise it wouldn't be useful even to insurance companies.

Insurance is inherently based on statistics. Which is the one place where BMI does work to an extent.
The fact that insurance companies can increase their profits by using BMI doesn't mean that you're reasonably likely to increase your own personal health by worrying about your BMI.

Maze1125:

Rack:
While BMI isn't ideal it does generally work for most people, otherwise it wouldn't be useful even to insurance companies.

Insurance is inherently based on statistics. Which is the one place where BMI does work to an extent.
The fact that insurance companies can increase their profits by using BMI doesn't mean that you're reasonably likely to increase your own personal health by worrying about your BMI.

No that's exactly what it means, it's reasonably likely I will increase my personal health, if it wasn't reasonably likely then the statistics wouldn't bear it out. The problem is reasonably likely isn't nearly good enough in the presence of better alternatives. It's only in the existence of additional information that I'm happy to stick with BMI as a useful yardstick.

Rack:

Maze1125:

Rack:
While BMI isn't ideal it does generally work for most people, otherwise it wouldn't be useful even to insurance companies.

Insurance is inherently based on statistics. Which is the one place where BMI does work to an extent.
The fact that insurance companies can increase their profits by using BMI doesn't mean that you're reasonably likely to increase your own personal health by worrying about your BMI.

No that's exactly what it means, it's reasonably likely I will increase my personal health, if it wasn't reasonably likely then the statistics wouldn't bear it out. The problem is reasonably likely isn't nearly good enough in the presence of better alternatives. It's only in the existence of additional information that I'm happy to stick with BMI as a useful yardstick.

But it's not useful, and you are misunderstanding what it means. You can apply certain statistical measures to a population, a set of data, and achieve results which are close enough to reality(ie within the statistical margin of error for a set of that particular size) to be useful measures, but which simply don't function when applied to any specific individual. This kind of misunderstanding is behind so many problems with public(and, alas, political) perception of science and statistics. That disconnect is exactly what Baresark was describing above; going by their BMI they are at risk for any number of serious illnesses, yet when you look at the specific and accurate markers for any of those specific illnesses, the BMI is proven wrong. You can have a perfectly "average" BMI and be grotesquely unhealthy, and you can be actually fat(as in, visibly fat, not just a high BMI due to muscle mass as with Baresark) yet still have no negative indicators for any specific illness(obviously it's a matter of degrees, but if you look like a human bowling-ball you shouldn't need the BMI to tell you have problems and need to change your lifestyle).

The best thing to do is ignore your BMI entirely and just set goals in terms of following the advice given to unhealthy people; eat less of the wrong things and more of the right things(within reason) and get exercise whenever you can. If you want to know specific personal information about your risk factors for certain illnesses, go to a doctor and have them run proper, accurate tests.

Why is BMI still a thing? Christ, I learned in 5th grade health class that it was bullshit.

there are outliers, but BMI is accurate enough for 90%+ of the population. Bitching about it is just fatlogic.

I was suprised to see the author of the article wasn't fat, at least judging by the pictures. Generally it's mostly fat people who talk about BMI. Of course it also references that BMI won't work on bodybuilders. Because fat people generally also do a shit-ton of steroids (seriously Arnold abused the fuck out of (oral) steroids) and do weight training to build muscle. Oh wait they don't.

Anyway, yea you shouldn't measure your fitness with your weight (aka BMI because let's face it, you won't get taller or shorter any time soon) but instead set physical fitness goals like being able to run certain distances or at a certain time. Walking X steps or playing with children isn't a fitness goal unless you're a recovering cancer patient.

Robot-Jesus:
there are outliers, but BMI is accurate enough for 90%+ of the population. Bitching about it is just fatlogic.

Um, thin people complain about it as well. I know some incredibly healthy people who've maintained the same weight for a couple of decades without major health problems, but are classed as 'underweight' by BMI.

NPC009:
I just follow the trousers-method. Trousers still fit? Good job! Trousers too tight? Better get some extra exercise and be more mindful of what you eat.

Hasn't failed me yet.

As long as you don't do what I did, which was to never do leg work up until about a year ago, and then find that I had to move up a size in pants because suddenly I had thighs.

I always thought the bmi thing was silly, but my freshman year of college told me it was just plain wrong. I was in the best shape of my life. 6 feet tall, 185 pounds. I was playing baseball at a d3 school, spending upwards of 30 hours a week doing baseball related activities (morning lifts, afternoon practices, and at least 4 games a week). I also played catcher, so I got more work than most. The point is that I was in peak condition. There was little I could do to improve, and yet according to the bmi thing, I was ~20 pounds overweight. Just silly.

EDIT: now im actually overweight. I stopped playing after that year and now im a 200 pound blob. Need to work on that....

Shamanic Rhythm:

Robot-Jesus:
there are outliers, but BMI is accurate enough for 90%+ of the population. Bitching about it is just fatlogic.

Um, thin people complain about it as well. I know some incredibly healthy people who've maintained the same weight for a couple of decades without major health problems, but are classed as 'underweight' by BMI.

And then there are those of us that are classified as overweight at 180 5'10. I'm like .. uh what??? I'm fairly trim and I'm pretty insulted that it's calling my BMI too high.

BMI might be accurate on an "average" person, but as a long-time wrestler, I've never cared about it at all and always considered it bullshit; back in high school we had to get certified at a minimum weight class that we could cut down to based on body fat percentages and such, and even at my certified minimum weight i.e. the weight which it would be dangerous to my health for me to drop below, I was still classified as "overweight" according to BMI.

When I originally lost weight it wasn't because of a new year's resolution. It was more of a Joe Scarborough ticked me off over his thoughts on obesity when compared to 2nd hand smoke. Although my rapid weight lost might have caused my widow's peak.

I started to gain it all back in 2011 when I had different resolutions to improve my life. I won't be losing this weight probably. But I did cut out delivery pizza just because I wanted to cut down on my use of my phone. And I've decided to not buy gas station food anymore.... Because a pushy cashier decided it was very important to give me a fatty card.... err.... "free sub" card, when all I wanted was some comfort food without the reminder how I gained the weight.

Also I never paid attention to BMI. I originally lost my weight by staying away from Saturated Fats. Then later Trans Fats also. In fact I believed I had an all liquid diet (near) perfected until I ended up stressed out & Self Check Out attracted people who would buy the liquids I would've bought at Walmart.

so apperently according to BMI i would stop being overweight if i weighed less than 79 KG? yeah, thats not going to happen. i like not looking like a holocaust survivor, thank you very much.

Posting in anticipation of the usual floods of people claiming that because the BMI scale is inaccurate for the very young, very old, pregnant women and bodybuilders, they can stop worrying about their 40+ BMI and use more "accurate" forms of health management, like self-diagnosis and "intuitive eating".

As the article points out, BMI is primarily a tool for use at a population-wide level, and in that regard it has been, and continues to be, a useful way of tracking trends in obesity. On an individual level? It should be the first step of a diagnosis, one of many potential red flags that are then looked into more closely. Only an idiot (and, apparently, the US Navy) would use it as the final word in assessing health.

Marla,

Sorry it seems like almost everyone is barely talking about the article, but at least its mostly BMI talk.

Great to see your Podcast talk on the matter lined up fairly well with your article: good job.

I use BMI, lots of good weight loss calculators are based on it, you can read about it here: https://www.tipweightlossdiet.com/weight-loss-calculator/ . As for me I think it's quite effective for weight loss.

 

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here