Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Body Mass Index

This tickles me.

The Body Mass Index (BMI) or Quetelet Index is a statistical measure of the weight of a person scaled according to height. It was invented between 1830 and 1850 by the Belgian polymath Adolphe Quetelet during the course of developing "social physics". (source - Wiki)

This fella wasn't worried about weight lifters and tri-athletes. Or even weekend athletes for that matter. So here goes.

OK. So how am I supposed to be 170lbs? Let me tell you, that was junior high. A long time ago, ok! I am not obese, I am not even overweight. But the BMI says I am.

It bothers me that there are a lot of people who are convinced that they need to lose weight according to the BMI scale. No one has bothered to explain to them what Body Composition is. Briefly, and non-exhaustively, it is the proportion of lean tissue and fat tissue your body possesses.

I have had many clients who were restricting to get down to a "healthy" weight only to find out that they had a significant amount of muscle when I assessed their Body Composition Analysis (bio-electric assessment!). Which is to their benefit.

You know muscle is denser than adipose tissue (fat) so to try and lose the weight they think they need to would mean they would have to trim down their lean tissue.

Um, lean tissue burns calories, so they would have to eat less, which means less to maintain the lean tissue. Followed by further restricting to achieve more weight loss.

The more one restricts, the more stress is put on the body to perform, the more the body wants to store fat.

See where I am going with this. It is not a good equation.

Yes, the BMI correlates to a lot of things and is a great, quick, way to encourage people to get healthier. But a critical eye must be applied to each case. Not everyone is built the same. Let's crank out a metaphor here. We are all made of bricks and mortar, however, we are not all given the same plans to our building.

Who's looking out for you?

In health,



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