BMI – Worthwhile or Worthless?


Quickly look at the BMI of these randomly selected individuals….

Person A:  5’9” 174lbs……BMI 25.8 (Overweight)

Person B: 5’7” 208 lbs……BMI  32.6 (Obese)

Person C: 5’11.5″ 218 lbs..BMI 30.4 (Obese)

At first glance using the BMI index, it would appear all three of these individuals are either overweight or obese.  Maybe when we take a look at who these people really are we will have a better opinion of the BMI.

Person A: Lance Armstrong

Person B: NFL running back Maurice Jones-Drew

Person C: Mike Tyson in his prime

This speaks for itself.  Don’t let trainers, or doctors, or anyone for that matter let you think you need more or less of something based on your BMI number.  BMI is one of the most useless indicators in the entire health and fitness field.  A better scale would be a simple measurement around your waistline.  In the words of Jack Lalanne “your waistline is your lifeline”.

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12 thoughts on “BMI – Worthwhile or Worthless?”

  1. Wow! I have always had people tell me, “You have to consider your muscle mass”. Yet, I have never thought about it in this way.

    Lance Armstrong and Mike Tyson considered overweight or obese? That is amazing. Definitely an eye opener!

    Question: How do you decide the size of your waistline? How do you set your goal for that?

    1. General guidelines as set by the International Diabetes Foundation:

      Female:

      Normal: Less than 32 inches (80 cm)

      Male:

      Normal: Less than 38 inches (94cm)

      Another method…. If you don’t have a tape measure you can divide your height in inches by two. Your waistline needs to be that number or smaller in inches.

  2. the BMI isnt 100% perfect but 99/100 its a very good indicator.

    the article points out extreme athleats who are the exception not the rule – also the bmi catagories are 5 points appart (normal weight 20-25, over weight 26-30, obest 31+ etc) so they are broad enough to allow for changes in individuals –
    but theres no getting away from the fact – that if a patient had a BMI of 40 they are at risk , or if its 15 they are grossly underweight – its the standard unit of weight evaluation and to undermine it risks only those with serious weight issues to ignore the findings their BMI calculation gives.

    1. For people who exercise regularly (and that number IS increasing), it is more like 99 out of 100 that BMI is wrong for (especially males). It does not have to be great athletes, people who exercise regularly fall into this same category. BMI is not only useless, it is harmful. Perhaps finally the establishment is waking up… A single measurement at the waist (Smallest point just above naval) along with weight tells you all you need to know. With it you can calculate a decent bodyfat estimate. The thing with BMI is that it glorifies weight loss at the expense of muscle mass and that is terrible. The goal is to keep your weigh UP but make you waist shrink. Weight loss along causes you to lose muscle which causes numerous problems.

  3. I agree the BMI can be somewhat useful, but looking at myself for instance…I am by no means an extreme athlete. I’m just your typical 26 year old guy, lifts weights five times a week and runs two times a week. I stand 5’10 and weigh 174 lbs. I have low body fat and consider myself extremely healthy. Yet, BMI tells me I am overweight. Granted I am on the low end, but nonetheless, BMI tells me I am overweight. BMI doesn’t take into account individuals who have above average muscle mass…I think that’s the point I was trying to get across in this article. Thanks for your input though! 🙂

  4. I agree the BMI can be somewhat useful, but looking at myself for instance…I am by no means an extreme athlete. I’m just your typical 26 year old guy, lifts weights five times a week and runs two times a week. I stand 5’10 and weigh 174 lbs. I have low body fat and consider myself extremely healthy. Yet, BMI tells me I am overweight. Granted I am on the low end, but nonetheless, BMI tells me I am overweight. BMI doesn’t take into account individuals who have above average muscle mass…I think that’s the point I was trying to get across in this article. Thanks for your input though! 🙂

  5. Very good post, very accurate and very true! Best is to look at your lean and fat mass (percentage) and make your own analysis.

  6. The problem is that people interpret the statistic wrong and make an error in logic. If you are obese you have a high BMI. No questions. If you have a high BMI, you may not be fat or even overweight (e.g. Lance, Mike and Maurice). What you need to consider is a measure of body fat percentage. That’s what tells you if you’re too thin, just right, overweight or obese.

  7. Love the article. I have to agree with others that bodyfat percentages are a better indication of health. Inorder for me to be normal weight, I have to be below 5% bodyfat

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