Body mass index (BMI) is used to determine whether you are at a healthy weight. It’s a very simple formula that uses just two variables – height and weight. Can you really get a good measurement of health from BMI?
Is BMI Accurate?
Let’s take a look at the BMI chart above. Look closely at the section highlighted in yellow. If you fall into this section, you are considered overweight.
Now, do you think that a 5’6″ male that works out, and is 181 pounds at 8% body fat is overweight? I don’t, but according to this chart, that person wouldn’t just be considered overweight, he would be borderline obese. You tell me, does this person look like he’s almost obese?
What about a 5’8″ female that is 158 pounds? According to the BMI chart – just 3 pounds away from being overweight. Does the person below look 3 pounds away from being overweight? Do you see the pattern? For people living an active and fit lifestyle, BMI is close to worthless.
I’ve heard countless stories like this from other people too. Doctors telling their patients they need to lose weight because this arbitrary BMI chart says they’re overweight.
When are we going to move beyond such a ridiculous measurement? The body mass index (BMI) was created during the 1800s. Have we not advanced enough as a society to figure out how meaningless this measurement really is?
Is BMI Accurate? NO. Then What Is?
Thankfully, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. We already know how to take accurate body composition readings. Body fat measurements tell the bigger story. We even have tests now to show how much fat mass, muscle mass, and other mass our bodies are comprised of.
A simple body fat caliper test can measure your fat mass and non fat mass. It can’t quite measure lean body mass accurately (it groups all non fat mass together), but that’s OK.
For a person that is concerned about being fit and healthy, a cheap pair of body fat calipers is all they need to accurately track their health and fat loss progress.
Let’s Start Rethinking Weight Measurements
What if someone starts a weight loss program weighing 200lbs. What if after a month this person still weighs 200lbs. Would you say they made any progress? The answer is we have no idea if the only progress measurement tools we use are the scale and BMI.
Not only could you have lost more fat than the scale is showing, but you could have also put on some muscle. Can your weight show you that progress? Nope. Can the BMI show you that? Not a chance. Is the BMI accurate? Only as an average of the population at whole. For people living a fit lifestyle, it’s time to retire the BMI for good. Focus your efforts on changing your body composition.
Calculate your BMI from the chart. Is it accurate? Does it represent a good portrayal of your body composition?