A good friend of artist and historian James Lachlan MacLeod has a daughter in the eighth grade who was tasked with finding out her BMI. BMI stands for Body Mass Index. It's an antiquated method used to qualify people as healthy or not based on the ratio of their weight and height.
When sharing the girl's responses to two questions on a worksheet given to her by a gym teacher, MacLeod noted, "As a strong and muscled athlete, her BMI came out as 'obese.'"
That, in of itself, suggests the faulty nature of BMI. But this middle-school girl gives a much lengthier and more powerful explanation for why BMI measurement is problematic.
Her first essay was in response to the simple question of "What is BMI?"
BMI is an outdated way of defining normal weight, under weight, over weight, and obesity by taking one person's height divided by their weight. One of the formula's obvious flaws, explains Alan Aragon, the Men's Health Weight Loss Coach and nutritionist in California, is that it has absolutely no way of discriminating fat and muscle. So, let's say there is a fairly athletic woman who maintains a decent diet, she's five feet, six inches, and she weighs 190 pounds, but 80% of her body is muscle. That doesn't matter when calculating BMI! This woman's BMI would be 30.7, and she would be labeled obese. Does that make sense to you? Because it sure doesn't make sense to me. How could someone who stays fit, eats healthy, and has a low metabolism be in danger of heart disease and diabetes? Oh, that's right, because she isn't in danger of obesity and heart disease. This woman is active and healthy and she is the furthest thing from obese. In conclusion, BMI is an outdated way of determining a person's body health, and it's a measurement that should not be used in a school setting where students are already self-conscious and lacking confidence in their unique bodies.