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Body Mass Index - Body Mis-guided Index?
Michael considered fate at 13:53   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
Exceedingly interesting: The Body Mass Index Conundrum.

Everyone* knows that BMI is kind of a crock of shit. I mean, anything that purports to indicate health risk through a formula involving only height and weight is clearly flawed. Since there is no accounting for muscle mass versus fat content and fat is actually lighter than muscle, we have a conundrum - or a crock of shit.

Certainly, as a vague indicator I won't argue its merits. But this is like a "it is raining, you might want to get to higher ground since there might be a flood" advice. Take it.. with a mighty large grain of salt (you know, a grain with a BMI of "morbidly obese").

All this because of a flickr set I stumbled on through a metafilter post:

Illustrated BMI Categories - in which someone has taken the time to collect very casual and normal photos of people and then tag them with their respective BMIs. What you'll find is a lot of "normal" looks pretty damn skinny and "deathly" could very well replace the term "underweight" for BMIs under 18.5. Nevertheless, "Obese" sometimes really is obese.

This got me going, since my BMI hovers right at 25 - the line between "normal" and "overweight".. I'd agree that this guy is carrying more fat than is healthy, but I wonder about muscle vs. fat all the time.

Most Interesting, I think, was a study I found linked in the comments of the metafilter post that was reported in the New England Journal of Medicine entitled Overweight, Obesity, and Mortality in a Large Prospective Cohort of Persons 50 to 71 Years Old (Warning: PDF). The researchers found that men with BMIs between 25 and 30 - the overweight category - were, on average, less likely to experience premature death than men in the normal category. This was not as true for women - which I find interesting as it perhaps shows that BMI is more suited to women than to men (perhaps related to the fact that women, as a general rule, have higher fat % of body weight compared to men). Here is the summary data in chart form.

* me

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