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I’m all fired up over the archaic BMI (Body Mass Index) system because it directly and negatively affects us. My hunky body builder of an Adonis husband is considered overweight by medical standards. He’s within an arms reach of being deemed as obese. He has approximately 10% body fat. Should I repeat that? Yes, I shall. He has approximately 10% body fat.
Let me give you a visual. Watch the Minnesota Vikings? Agile, athletic and muscular Adrian Peterson is considered overweight according to BMI scale. Like movies? Let’s look at (yes, please!) Sylvester Stallone’s chiseled well defined physique during his “Rambo” days. According to the BMI scale, he was considered OBESE.
Part of the problem is the BMI scale was never designed to evaluate an individual’s weight. According to an article in Mens Health, it was created to measure the collective weight of an entire population. It was developed so doctors and insurance companies would have an easy tool that could predict…get this…. an early death based on weight.
Originally, there was supposed to be a male and female designation, too. Different calculations were to be used for each gender but that distinction was tossed by the wayside. Now, I’m not a Rhodes Scholar, but it seems kind of simple to me – ‘Y’ chromosomes get this formula and ‘X’ chromosomes get this one.
So how did we go from something that was designed to be used en masse to judging individuals? Well, in large part it’s because of its uncomplicated math (math…eyes rolling in the back of my head…..drooling….. Must. Snap. Out. Of. It.) and its four no-brainer categories (underweight, normal weight, overweight and obese). Simple it is. Accurate it is not.
To the topic of the day: Why are we still using this inaccurate system?!! Plain and simple, one of the main reasons is the numbers aren’t dangerous. But, as in our case, they CAN be expensive. When we recently applied for life insurance my husband was classified as overweight. This throws my obsessively faithful gym rat into a higher rate/risk category. It should be noted that several websites I viewed stated the BMI scale should not be used with weight lifters!! Cha! I’m sayin’!
Yeah, sure, doctors/life insurance companies can take other measurements to determine a person’s risk factors but they aren’t perfect either. For instance, if you just measure a person’s waist, you’re measuring specific fat. You are not taking into account the weight of the person’s lean muscle mass.
There is ‘talk’ of testing for a hormone called Leptin that is secreted by body fat. Research is showing this to be an inexpensive way to determine if you are underweight, normal weight, overweight or obese.
My husband had an idea: A simple metal caliper. He might just be on to something. (Notice I stopped short of saying, “He’s got a good idea” as that might wreck my street cred.) According to Livestrong.com, “under ideal conditions, caliper tests predict fat percentage within plus or minus 3.5 percent of your true body composition.”
I wasn’t able to find an accuracy percentage for the BMI test as it…oh yeah, that’s right, doesn’t calculate your body fat percentages. Sigh. Can you feel my (pocketbook) pain??