I went to the doctor's office with my little brother this morning, and it pretty much felt like getting my teeth pulled out one by one. This wasn't his regular doctor, and nothing about the visit was fun, but the thing that stood out the most was when she tried telling my brother that his BMI was too high.
Y'all, my brother is a 6-foot, weightlifting machine. This kid lifts pretty much whenever he can, and he's ridiculous about his fitness. He even does meal prep AND drinks protein shakes. I seriously don't know anyone that tries harder at staying active and fit than my brother.
So when this doctor told my brother that, according to his BMI, he was overweight, don't get me wrong: I was a little ticked. My brother was a little ticked. My mom was a little ticked. This really did not help the appointment, but in the end, my brother shrugged it off because he said that BMI was pretty much BS.
But when I got home, I decided to calculate what my own BMI would be. And according to those numbers, apparently, I'm obese, by American standards.
I wasn't really sure how to feel, honestly. I've struggled some with body image in the past, but for the most part, I've gotten to the point where I can feel happy with how I look.
Suddenly that feeling of acceptance was stripped from me, all because of a couple of numbers.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not thin. I know I'm overweight. But I never ever would've classified myself as obese. After seeing my BMI, I decided to do some digging to figure out how accurate this test really is. What I found is that it's not very accurate at all.
In order to calculate your BMI, you divide your weight (in pounds) by your height (in inches) squared. Then you take that number and multiply it by 703. If the number you get is over 25, then you're considered overweight. If it's over 30, then you're obese.
That's all fine and dandy, except that calculation literally only accounts for your height and weight. It doesn't take into consideration your body type, how much muscle you have, how big your bones are, or any other factors.
So why is this the calculation we're using to calculate obesity?
As I said, my brother lifts weights excessively. For a 16-year-old, he's got a ton of muscle. But this test didn't acknowledge that. Instead, it just said, "Oh, since you weigh x pounds, you're overweight."
Admittedly, BMI does work for some people, and using it can give you a general idea on whether or not you need to keep an eye on your weight. However, weight isn't necessarily the problem. Usually, muscle isn't going to give you health problems, fat is.
So instead of focusing on our overall body weight, we need to find a system that focuses more on our fat levels than our weights.