Why BMI stands for “Blatantly Meaningless Information”

For those who have been involved with weight training in particular, BMI does not tell the whole story. Muscle is more dense than fat, pound for pound. Athletes with very little body fat have often tipped the BMI scale in the overweight or even obese category because of their well-developed physiques. We need to use new metrics to assess fitness. The BMI fails.

The LA Times has published another awesome article, this time taking aim at BMI.  The article headline states “For nearly 1 in 5 Americans, BMI may tell the wrong story”.  Although one of the main studies actually places the misdiagnosis statistic closer to 2 in 5 Americans, I have to give the LA Times credit for posting this story which goes on to detail something that many of us in the HAES (R) universe already know: BMI is not a good predictor of individual health.  In short:

Having a high BMI does not mean you have poor metabolic health.  Having a low BMI does not mean you have good metabolic health.

So why is this important?  Well for a lot of reasons.  First off, if your doctor is using BMI to determine whether or not you should get further screenings or tests, he or she is using an extremely…

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2 thoughts on “Why BMI stands for “Blatantly Meaningless Information”

  1. It seems to me the problem isn’t the tool but its over and misapplication. It’s like asking whether someone is overweight if they weigh 150 pounds. Well, that’s going to depend whether we’re talking about a 5’0″ woman completely out of shape or a 6’6″ male body builder. But if I ask if a 400 pound person is overweight the answer is almost certainly “yes” and “by quite a bit.” Similarly, saying some specific person is overweight with a BMI of 26 and fine at 24 is not reasonable, but most people with a BMI of 30 need to be considering their weight (or increasing their height ;D)

    The BMI allows making a quick and likely correct estimate for a much larger number of people, but we need to quit applying it blindly. That causes a backlash feeling the the number is worthless, when it really just needs to be taken in perspective. Certainly, the original poster’s case of a company mandating remedial action based solely on BMI is a case of the measurement being misused. We must push back against that sort of abuse.

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