100 lb. Club - thoughts on BMI?

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03-04-2012, 12:56 PM
How do y'all feel about BMI as a measurement of health? It's become the standard used by doctors and insurance companies and actuaries use it to figure out mortality rates and such. But do you care about it or trust it as an accurate measure of fitness? Or do you use some other barometer of success?

I ask because my trainer and I were chatting about it recently, and I was horrified when he told me that he's considered overweight on the BMI charts. He's a young, slim and crazy fit boxer with killer abs, beautiful arms (seriously, my trainer has the body of Greek god) and ridiculously low body fat but he's not particularly tall (maybe 5'10"-ish). So the BMI powers that be deemed him overweight. I don't get it -- it all just seems really arbitrary to me.

Do you think it's a fair measurement? Asking out of sheer curiosity.

Happy Sunday!

03-04-2012, 01:46 PM
I personally think the BMI calculators are bologna. Every person has a different body, and I don´t understand how you can be judged strickly on your height and weight. It doesnt take into consider your fat vs. muscle. My ¨BMI¨is 28% and to be in the mid ¨normal¨range I need to be 125. I can tell you I haven´t been 125 since I was like 15 years old, and have no desire to be that low again.....

Just my thoughts. To play devil´s advocate, I´m sure it does have a true purpose or it wouldn´t still be around and used.

03-04-2012, 01:48 PM
It's a decent guideline to get people in the ballpark of a healthy weight goal, but it's not the end-all. Lots of fit athletes with muscle mass are above their 'ideal' BMI because of their extra muscle weight.

03-04-2012, 01:51 PM
For the majority of the population, I think BMI is a good standard of measure. Most of us won't have the time/dedication/resources/drive to get to a place where one is so muscular that they're considered overweight or obese.

You don't necessarily have to go nuts trying to get into the healthy range, but it does provide some starting point for some folks.

For people like your trainer or athletes, it really isn't a good standard of measure. Any doctor should be able to see that they're healthy though and just a muscular person when they look at them vs what the scale says.

Go watch 300. Gerard Butler is considered "obese" there (not so much now...he doesn't have that physique anymore, LOL). He also had someone to train him to get that physique and while others could do it on their own, it requires a tremendous effort that many just don't have the resources to put in.

03-04-2012, 02:02 PM
As said by sontaikle, I believe it is a good aim for people to reach, even if just slightly under or a tad over. However, it's not going to be accurate for everyone. I am within a healthy BMI now but my fat percentage if through the roof. With that being said, BMI is a great goal.

03-04-2012, 02:14 PM
I use the BMI calculation as a positive motivational tool, and nothing else. Many BMI calculators will even state somewhere that it does not take into consideration if its calculating fat or muscle weight but again it's just a tool. When I started my weight loss journey I was Morbidly Obese according to my BMI calculation now I have come down to Class II obese. I love being able to see with this tool that I am making progress! My current goal weight is 175lbs (5' 7")this still puts me in a category of being overweight and I could really care less about that. I will be a very healthy happy 175lb woman. Most tools are just that tools use them for what they are worth use them as a positive, and if you can't find a positive in it ditch it and don't use it at all! ;)

03-04-2012, 07:15 PM
I use the BMI scale as a general guideline. My next mini-goal is to get to 149lbs, which will place me officially in the "normal" weight range. It's just another milestone for me, but I don't think BMI tells the full story of a person's health or appearance.

03-04-2012, 08:51 PM
I think, like many other measures of health, it's a good guideline. And there is definitely a different BMI scale for athletes. Your trainer was making a generalization. Look at body builders - they have very little body fat and are very "dense" and if you use only a height to weight ratio, they are overweight and even obese. For those of us who are not so buff, it's a pretty good guideline to use to get you into a healthy range.


03-04-2012, 09:50 PM
I look at it as purely a guideline. Everyone cannot fit into the same box. My husband is like your trainer. He's considered overweight by the BMI standards but he is not at all.

That said, I am aiming for a goal weight that would put me at a healthy BMI. I haven't been my current size in so long and I have no idea what I'll look like at 145. I might not even make it there, I might make it there and realize I can go even further. Right now it's just a guideline. Because yeah, I would like to be able to say I have a healthy BMI, but I know if I only make it to 155 and am still considered overweight, I'm not going to force myself to lose that 10 extra pounds and possible be too skinny just so I can say I have a healthy BMI.

03-04-2012, 09:53 PM
I agree. Like weight charts, BMI charts are just guidelines to help get you into the healthy ballpark area. They are not the final word though.


03-04-2012, 10:07 PM
For me, right now, BMI is probably pretty accurate or may even underestimate my obesity status, because I'm not able to be very active. I know that I have too much fat and water, and not enough bone and muscle.

I'm working to reverse that, and I would love to get to the point when the scale and BMI says I'm overweight, but my doctor and I know that the "extra" weight is muscle and bone, not fat.

I don't know whether that's even possible with my health issues, but I can work toward that dream.

My husband and I have two friends who are in the "obese" BMI who are not obese (according to their doctors). One is my hubby's best friend (a man) who is extremely lean. He's also extremely athletic. He not only works out at the gym daily, he's also an avid outdoorsman/hunter/hiker... Even when he's standing or sitting he's never standing or sitting "still." He's so lean that he has the proverbial "six pack" and you can see the muscle definition in his arms and legs. He's so "buff" he could model.

We have another friend (a woman) who is "obese" by BMI but really just overweight. She does have some weight to lose, but not nearly as much as BMI would have her lose. She's also very active and athletic. You might guess that she weighs 170 or 180 lbs (about a size 12, I would guess), but she told me that she weighs 220 lbs. In my mind, there was absolutely no way she could possibly weigh that much, until I learned more about her activity level and work out routine. Wowza, even when I was young and active, I wasn't THAT active. You can see the muscle definition in her arms, but does she carry some extra weight in her butt and thighs. However for her to reach a "healthy BMI" she would have to lose muscle as well as fat.

Because we're the same height, I actually brought her a picture of myself at 225 lbs. The difference was astonishing. It does give me hope though, because often I think, "I'll never get to my goal weight of 150 lbs," and I remind myself that I don't have to, if I'm willing and able to add a lot more muscle.

It's funny, but that thought is my motivation for exercise "the more I exercise (to build muscle), the fewer pounds I'll have to lose." It will be a very long time before I need to worry about whether my BMI is the best indicator of a healthy weight, or whether I can reach full health potential. When I get closer to that point, I'll start asking for my doctor's feedback.

03-04-2012, 10:21 PM
I agree with the other posters it is a great tool used with other tools to give you a guideline. But everyone is not going to fit into the same box.

Madame Souza
03-04-2012, 11:00 PM
I am using BMI as a guideline because when I started at 286, I had no idea how much weight I wanted to loose or what I will look like when I do. I am closer to my goal but still don't know what I will look like when or if I reach it. Now that I am closer, I want to get rid of the flab around my middle and when I do, I will know that's what I want to be whatever that weight is.

03-04-2012, 11:52 PM
My doctor said that use of BMI is a general tool to determine your ballpark range.

As others have mentioned, it's important to take other things into consideration --- muscle mass, frame size, etc.

Unfortunately I have a large frame/bone structure (thanks, Dad!), so I doubt I'll ever reach my "ideal" BMI.

03-05-2012, 12:20 PM
i think it's utter crap. norway doesn't even use it any more - they use waist-to-hip ratio as a much better indicator of health issues.

if you get two guys, both six feet and 275 they both have a BMI of 37.3 even if one has a 52" waist and the other has a 32" waist!

if you want guidelines or ballparks, better to stick to the old insurance charts - they're about as accurate and they're easier to comprehend.

03-05-2012, 01:10 PM
Thanks everyone! I've pretty much thought the BMI scale was crap for years too. I understand it's just a guideline -- the thing that troubles me is that I think because it fluctuates so wildly from person to person, it's an unfair measure to use for underwriting insurance policies, etc.

I'm interested in what this waist-to-hip ratio thing is now. Googling!

03-05-2012, 03:19 PM
The BMI was designed to look at whole populations (45-year-old men, for example, or 24 year old women) for insurance purposes. For those purposes, it's a great snapshot of healthy and not-so-healthy weights and for recognizing changing weight trends within those populations.

It isn't and was never expected to be a measure for individuals. But it's an easy measurement to find and use, and so it was used more and more.

For me, I'm not worried about whether it's accurate. I KNOW I'm morbidly obese, and will be for many more pounds to go. It's really only those folks who are very active and muscular that show with higher BMIs than they should. I'm nowhere near them.

03-05-2012, 03:26 PM
i used the BMI scale to give me a general idea for my goal weight. i chose 165 because it is on the high end of 'normal bmi' for my height. i'm fairly certain i'm large framed (based on the width of my elbow joint) so i thought that was a good starting point. i definitely do not think it is the only (or best) way to determine a person's health and fitness level.

03-05-2012, 03:51 PM
Even though I try to view it as just a guideline, I do get happy when I fall in the "normal" range...

03-05-2012, 07:43 PM
I think, like many other measures of health, it's a good guideline. And there is definitely a different BMI scale for athletes. Your trainer was making a generalization. Look at body builders - they have very little body fat and are very "dense" and if you use only a height to weight ratio, they are overweight and even obese. For those of us who are not so buff, it's a pretty good guideline to use to get you into a healthy range.


This for me. When I was fit I was in the overweight category for BMI although I had a low % body fat. I have a large frame and large muscles and I'm pretty compact once the weight is off. Even for my weight now I'm in a smaller size than most....this has been very frustrating for me most of my life cause I tried to "FIT INTO BMI" and it just depressed me. I can't go by it. My personal trainer now gives me new pair of eyes. She's only 5 feet tall and is all muscle, low body fat, but she weighs a 140!!! YES You read that right. But she looks like she's 110! Her BMI is overweight too....she's large frame and compact and as well and has always had the same problems as I have....so BMI sucks for me but I can see how it can be used as a tool.....but like everything else in life, taken with a grain of salt and find the balance for you!

03-06-2012, 04:27 AM
I think we're a pretty on to it bunch! We all realise its just another tool, a guideline to help us on our journey. For me its just another number that I get to see getting smaller and I'm looking forward to being able to say I'm overweight and being in BMI over weight and not obese. I also like it for a measure to see how far I've come, from super obese through morbid, severe and now "just" obese.