If you've been to the gym or taken a PE class, you probably learned about the Body Mass Index (BMI). In a nutshell, your BMI is a formula that compares your weight with your height in order to calculate obesity.
Well, it's time to throw that number out the window.
Recent research suggests that this old fashioned tape and scale technique may not be a true indication of your health and wellness at all.
According to a new study
published in the International Journal of Obesity
, researchers found that calculating someone’s BMI may be ineffective. The study indicates that millions of 'perfectly healthy' Americans are being mislabeled as either obese or overweight.
How could someone who falls within the obese category of the BMI be perfectly healthy? The BMI fails to capture internal markers of health, such as cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure.
Jeffrey Hunger, a doctoral student in the UCSB Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences and co-author of the paper, told Yahoo Health
, "A person’s BMI doesn’t speak to their behaviors. Although our study can’t speak directly to this issue, I suspect that lifestyle factors, such as being active, are more important than BMI in predicting actual health. Generally speaking, we need to end the laser focus we have on weight and start truly focusing on health."
A good example of this is Jessamyn Stanley
, a self-ascribed yoga teacher and 'fat femme' who shares her plus-sized at-home yoga practice with the world. Jessamyn's Youtube channel proves that good health and wellness really do come in all shapes and sizes.
Conversely, a great body does not mean superior health
. In the study conducted by Hunger, he and his team also concluded that about 30 percent of people with a normal BMI (about 20.7 million Americans) are actually unhealthy.
Hunger goes on to say, “I think this can best be explained by the crude nature of the BMI. It’s overly simplistic to think that height and weight will adequately capture health. We need to move away from trying to find a single metric on which to penalize or incentivize people and instead focus on finding effective ways to improve behaviors known to have positive outcomes over time. The closer we can get to actual markers of health, the better. This includes clinical indicators like those used in our study, such as blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, as well as behaviors that we know are important for long-term health like eating well, staying active, and getting enough sleep.”
We couldn't agree more! Rather than fixating on weight, we believe that you should focus on eating a balanced diet, getting enough exercise throughout the week, and not engaging in destructive behaviors like smoking. You'll feel yourself shinning from the inside out - a quality no tape and scale technique can measure.
Do you agree? Share your thoughts and comments below!