Is BMI a flawed measure of obesity?

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brad tittle

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Is BMI a flawed measure of obesity?
« on: 25/05/2008 09:41:17 »
brad tittle  asked the Naked Scientists:

Just read a story discussion Childhood Obesity. Using BMI to assess obesity is really bad. Using it to assess obesity in children is COMPLETELY SENILE.
It sounds like a reasonable measurement tool. When you look at "average" people it seems to work. The problem these days is that few people are average any more. They didn't grow up during a famine. They had plentiful calories. Now their bodies are bigger. Taller and bulkier. Yes some of them are fat, but a lot of them are just bigger.
Just look at the units and it becomes clear that it is nonsensical.
It becomes even more nonsensical when applied to people of smaller stature like children.
Please don't report such nonsense, unless it is to dispel it.

The best way to identify if someone is overweight? Look at them naked.

Don't get too excited about a little extra fat though, that's just larder.
(I haven't got completely through this weeks episode, I saw this on another site, but you all are pretty good at reporting this stuff. Maybe I can talk you out of it!)

Have a great day
Brad Tittle

What do you think?


Offline SquarishTriangle

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Is BMI a flawed measure of obesity?
« Reply #1 on: 25/05/2008 12:14:27 »
Yeah, I tend to think of the body mass index as just a simple rough estimate of a person's total body mass to fat proportions and subsequently their 'healthiness'. Of course there are a lot of other parameters to consider when accessing the state of health of an individual. But even just looking at someone's fat content, we clearly don't all have the same dimensions as a scoring system based on just height and mass (yeah...mass!) would tend to suggest. It also doesn't take into account variations in the make up of someone's total body mass (eg. muscle mass). Having said that though, it is just a rough guide, and simple enough to calculate or read off a chart. And there is usually a range quoted for what is 'ideal' I guess that gives a little leeway for variation within the population. On the concept of being average, sure, most people are not average...that's why we have an average. :)

As for fat kids...too much pressure on children I think! Ok, SOME kids out there need a little nudge in the right direction. But for the rest of them, it's bad enough seeing the majority of the adult population obsessing about their size...but leave the kids alone!! (Spoken from the former fat kid...but that's another story entirely :P) Vent over.
« Last Edit: 25/05/2008 12:17:38 by SquarishTriangle »


Offline Madidus_Scientia

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Is BMI a flawed measure of obesity?
« Reply #2 on: 25/05/2008 13:40:27 »
It is indeed quite stupid, I don't even understand how it came about to become a standard in assessing weight. Like SquarishTriangle said, it does not take into account muscle mass at all. I do  weights now and then and have managed to build a reasonable amount of muscle, and I went for a medical the other week because I was starting a new job, and apparently i'm overweight, I was offended :P
Height and weight just isn't enough information to determine someone's physique.