Study finds BMI to be deeply flawed measure of health

The government has proposed rules that would allow employers to penalize employees for up to 30% of their health insurance costs if they don’t meet 24 health criteria one of which is the BMI, Body Mass Index.   It turns out that the BMI is a very unreliable indicator of health.    

From this LA times article, BMI mislabels 54 million Americans as 'overweight' or 'obese,' study says:

“A team of UCLA researchers analyzed data from 40,420 individuals who participated in the 2005-2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and they found that nearly half (47.4%) of overweight people and 29% of obese people were, from a metabolic standpoint, quite healthy. On the flip side, more than 30% of individuals with “normal” weights were metabolically unhealthy.

“The BMI is just a really crude and terrible indicator of someone’s health.”

This regulatory gambit would saddle employees with unfairly high health insurance costs based on a deeply flawed measure of actual health.

Another study confounding the worth of the BMI statistic found that those with more muscle live longer.  Those will more muscle will have higher BMIs, and if proposed regulations are put in place they would have the privilege of paying high premiums. Mike Tyson pictured here would be classified as obese. I don’t know; he looks healthy to me.

BMI be damned.  With proper strength training you can increase your muscle mass – even seniors,   At New Orleans Personal Training andAustin Personal Training we can help you with that.

Muscle mass a better predictor of longevity

From this Scientific American article, Muscle Mass Beats BMI as Longevity Predictor:

“Researchers analyzed BMI and muscle mass data from more than 3,600 seniors in a long-term study. And they tracked which seniors had died, a decade later. Turns out BMI wasn't much good at predicting chance of death. 

But muscle mass was: more muscle meant better odds of survival.” 

BMI is a dubious measurement to begin with.  Pictured is Mike Tyson. According to BMI charts he would be classified as clinically obese. He is not fat and has substantial muscle mass.

More muscle mass leads to a host of positive benefits: more strength, increased gait speed, enhanced flexibility, increased bone density, lower likelihood of falling, increased likelihood of surviving a fall without injury, higher metabolism, lower blood sugar, less chance of developing metabolic syndrome, and better able to positively stress the cardiovascular system just to name a few benefits.

People are usually not put in nursing homes because they're out of breath; it's usually because they lack the strength to carry out daily activities on their own.  With proper strength training you can increase your muscle mass – even seniors, and you’ll feel better.  At New Orleans Fitness Trainers and Austin Fitness trainers our strength training program is designed to be efficient and effective in getting those benefits listed above and live longer with a higher quality of life

BMI Versus Eyeballing

It used to be that to determine how fat a person was one took calipers and took anywhere from three to seven measurements of the body, came up with a total, and looked at a chart that took age into account to come up with a number for body fat percentage.  That might take a few minutes or a little longer if you did as recommended and checked it twice to make sure. 

Now BMI is the preferred measurement.  Take weight and height and look at a chart – you’re done, let’s golf. 

In his prime fighting weight Mike Tyson was 5’10’ and 220 pounds.  According to BMI charts Mike's BMI of 31.6 would classify Mike as clinically obese. BMI is wildly inaccurate.  Why is it used?  It is easy, that is why.  It takes few seconds instead of a few minutes.  What is worse, researchers base studies on the BMI. 

In the interest of science and saving time I propose another measurement for determining fat percentage.   I call it eyeballing.  Just look at the subject and say you are fat, skinny, or just right.  It would be at least as accurate as BMI. Mike Tyson (pictured here) would be obese according to the BMI method.  According to my eyeballing method I would say he is just right. Now which method would you say is more accurate?

In one study Can You Tell If Your Child Is Overweight? Most Parents Can't, Study Finds the parents are apparently using the eyeball method and it differs from the BMI result.  What to do to break the tie?  Perhaps use the magic eight ball to supply an answer. IMO it iwould be every bit as scientific as the BMI.

At Austin Personal Training and New Orleans Personal Training we can get you stronger so you can be fat just like Mike.