Let’s talk about obesity. Well, more specifically, let’s talk about the common tool for measuring and determining obesity: BMI (Body Mass Index).
Obesity is a lot like obscenity: you know it when you see it. Going by the hard and fast numbers, like matching up height and weight on a chart to determine how healthy or unhealthy someone is, is limited and, to some, insulting. Score above a 30, and you’re obese. But what if you’re heavily muscled? Or a curvy lady with a prominent backside/hips (hello birthing hips!)? BMI doesn’t care, fatty.
According to the BMI scale, I am obese. BULLSHIT. Some numbers for you: I wear a size 16, 18 on a bad day, but can honestly still fit into a lot of my 14s. I am 5 foot 10 and about, well… I’m over 200 (CRIES AND HIDES IN CORNER), however when most people try to ballpark my weight, they tend to be off by 20-30 pounds. Why? Because I am not obese, nor do I look that overweight. Yes, I’m fat, but I am actually less fat than most Americans (slightly sad for America, but oh well). I can still shop at normal stores (albeit I have to get the tall sizes online)…. and while I have some annoying as hell back fat, I’m not a jiggly hot mess.
But according to the Body Mass Index, I am obese. Really? My blood pressure is perfect, my heart rate is normal and my cholesterol is tip-top for someone my age. I walk 1-2 miles a day, every day, I eat whole grains and plenty of fruits and vegetables. I only eat fast food 3-4 times a year. Do I have a lot of muscle? Not yet, but what if I did? Muscle weighs more than fat, so BMI might call me obese anyway.
The BMI scale does not take into account any of these factors, let alone my gender or age.
According to the BMI scale (and a few silly doctors), I should weigh 135 pounds. I’m sorry, but I’d rather not be an anorexic model. I can only imagine how many people have been told by medical professionals (or a quiz in a magazine, or a quick Google search) that they should be 10, 20, 30 UNDER what would realistically be healthy. You can’t tell me that I should weigh the same as a supermodel, as normal human being, at my height. 160 – about a size 8-10 is my target. 135 is setting myself up for failure, or even BDD (body dysmorphic disorder). The short-sighted BMI scale has people aiming for ridiculous weights, and is also telling people who aren’t clinically obese that they are. The thing is, doctors and organizations such as my beloved Weight Watchers reinforce this scale with their patients/customers, and many of the less astute among them may have no idea they are being told inaccurate, short-sighted information.
Of course, one must consider the other side of the argument: there needs to be SOMETHING to measure obesity, especially in our American super-sized society. Something is better than nothing, yada yada. But are you really telling me there’s no way to factor in muscle mass and/or gender into the scale? Weight Watchers now decides points based on age, gender, height AND activity level in one’s job (ie: a desk jockey moves around less than someone who works a factory floor)… BMI can’t at least take into consideration gender and muscle mass/percent body fat?
Am I overweight? Yes. Obviously. Am I obese? No. So STFU BMI, and stop trying to make me feel bad about myself.
I’m not the only one out there — anyone else have thoughts? Anger? Think I’m a crazy fatty? XD