I am overweight. When I tell people that, they laugh. But, for how I feel inside my skin, I am probably 10-15 pounds above where I’d like to be. But even if I lost that weight, I’d still be overweight according to allopathic medicine.
My comfortable weight is about 10 pounds higher than where medicine would put me for my height. It also discounts any muscle that forms from exercise or the heavy lifting that comes with parenting. Indeed, the flawed metric Body Mass Index does not take muscle growth into account.
Recently, as part of an insurance-based physical, my BMI was calculated. Medically, I am overweight. Physically, I’m not 100% comfortable, but medically is what matters these days. A lot is judged based not on how I feel, nor on my blood tests, blood pressure, and healthy eating habits, but on a height to weight ratio that was devised in 1989. A lot of scientific understanding about health has happened in 30 years, but still, the medical establishment uses this outdated metric.
Oh wait, did you catch what I wrote above?
Silly me, BMI isn’t from the 1980s! It was actually devised between 1830 and 1850.
Can you believe that? We are generating important health data using a metric that began during a time when blood letting was still popular, when war wounds were cauterized on site and the injured had to bite on straps or sticks to help the pain, and when handwashing was seen as laughable to help prevent birth delivery deaths.
But here we are anyway. Using an ancient metric from an era when slavery still existed in the United States to quantify one’s health.
As we know, bodies come in all shapes and sizes. Healthy bodies can be small or large. Unhealthy bodies can be skinny or fat or in between. And science has advanced to look at our health at a micro level to determine what is healthy and what is not.
Very little can substitute for choosing the right food, getting the right amount of sleep, and jumping off the couch for activity. But it’s time we ditch the 1800s “metric” to classify whether we have work to do or not.
Self-care and self-acceptance will do more for our health than an outdated number from the era when Martin Van Buren was the hot name in politics.
Links about the flaws of BMI: