Archive for the ‘who’s fat?’ Category

The BMI:Who’s Fat and Who’s Not

Thursday, August 2nd, 2007

“BMI” still stands for Broadcast Music, Inc.; it’s also the UK’s second largest airline. But most of us know BMI as Body Mass Index, the famous number that supposedly tells us whether we’re normal, overweight, obese, or dangerously thin. It is defined as the ratio of weight in Kg. to height (in meters) squared. To do an easy calculation on yourself , go to this NIH site . It’s one of over 19 million url’s on Google found with the search term “BMI.”

According to the NIH, a healthy weight is a BMI of 18.5-24.9; overweight is 25-29.9; and obese is 30 or higher. The BMI is an inexact measure of body fat, though it supposedly establishes cutoff points and is claimed to be an easy method of screening for weight categories. It is not a reliable diagnostic tool to fully measure health risks. Further, BMI does not take into account age, gender, or especially muscle mass. Nor does it distinguish between lean body mass and fat mass. As a result, some people, such as muscular athletes, may have a high BMI even though they don’t have a high percentage of body fat. In the elderly the BMI may be falsely low-or high.

Is Nicole Kidman at 5’11” and 120 pounds with a BMI of 16 seriously thin? Do you think Charlize Theron and Halle Berry at a BMI of 17, Lindsay Lohan at 18 or Jennifer Lopez at a borderline 19 are too thin. (we’re not counting those stars who are suffering dangerously low BMI’s due to eating disorders.)

Getting to the men, would you consider President Bush (5’11”, 191 lbs), and actors Tom Cruise (5’7″, 170 lbs), Matt Damon(5’11”, 187 lbs) “overweight,” all with borderline BMI’s of 26? Then, there’s Johnny Depp at 27, and George Clooney, David Duchovny, and Harrison Ford, each with a shocking BMI of 29. Will Smith, and Matthew McConaughey are also considered overweight. Poor Mel Gibson at a BMI of 32 and Sylvester Stallone at 34. Both are defined by the NIH guidelines as officially obese! You might want to visit this site for an interesting rundown.

Is there in fact a real or an over-hyped obesity epidemic?

Old definition: BMI > 28 (men), BMI > 27 (women)
People under old definition: 70.6 million

The definition was changed in 1998 by the U.S. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute to an upper limit of 25-29.9 for overweight.

People added under new definition: 30.5 million
Percent Increase: 43%

That translates into one-third of the U.S. population overweight or obese. Can you believe it?