Search

“If Your Doctor Mentions Your BMI, Say this…”



You may have read that the most widely used tool to assess weight the Body Mass Index or “BMI” has serious flaws when it comes to assessing your healthy weight. So does that mean we shouldn’t use the BMI anymore? Probably not but for now we're stuck with using the BMI. Especially since our understanding of body fat metabolism and the disease of obesity is still in it's early stages.


Do you really know your healthy weight? If your first response was to say, "The BMI chart says..." Then you may not know your healthy weight. The BMI has its flaws, as we'll discuss in this blog post.


It's important to get your healthy weight right because many people base their weight loss goals on a certain number. If this number is too low, it can be harmful to your health. Also aiming for unrealistic numbers can lead to short term diets and unhelpful weight fluctuations.

I had a great time discussing "Deciding Your Weight Goal" on the Weight Solutions For Physicians podcast.

During a recent interview, I also shared my insights on the BMI and its limitations. Read more below:


1. What is the BMI, and what is it designed to do (or what do

most doctors say it does)?


"The BMI or 'body mass index' is a mathematical calculation of a person's weight divided by their height. The formula for BMI actually originated in 1832 from a Belgian anthropologist & mathematician, Adolphus Quelet. Quelet didn't intend the BMI for medical use. He just thought it was a cool observation for how people's weight changes proportional to height as we grow.


In the 1970's Dr. Ancel Keys wanted to help create a standardized way to measure health in the American population. Based on Dr. Keys' previous work in nutrition research, he thought weight would be a useful indicator of health since it was already being used by the insurance industry. Dr. Keys adopted Quelet's calculation and called it the 'body mass index' or BMI.