By Judy Piersall 

Many of us either work for, or have spouses that work for, companies who offer preventive health “reward dollars” for hitting certain numbers every year as a part of annual physicals. BMI, cholesterol, A1c or glucose, and blood pressure checks are common in biometric screenings and must be recorded and signed by a physician or their representative.

According to the National Institute of Health, body mass index (BMI) is a measure of body fat based on height and weight as it applies to adult men and women. It is calculated by dividing a person’s weight by their height. You can do it yourself online using a BMI calculator and then review the chart. 

The test, however, is flawed. It’s a simple formula and because it uses height and weight to calculate body fat, it’s often inaccurate as it relates to the individual. Most importantly, it can’t distinguish between fat and muscle, which is heavier and tips the scale. My son is a college football BMIstrength and conditioning coach. He’s been working out and watching his diet since he was 14. However, at 5’8” and 180 pounds, his BMI is 27.4. He is considered overweight and borderline obesity Class 1 on the BMI chart, when in reality his body fat is 10 percent.

These fallacies often occur when calculating and using indexes and charts. It’s impossible to factor in the individual. And in the case of athletes, the BMI is not used to calculate body fat because it’s inaccurate and irrelevant. Unfortunately the tests they use aren’t an option for the average person because insurance won’t cover them.

Medical data used to comprise charts, protocols and guidelines is just a snapshot of certain groups of people; consequently the rest of us are often lumped, inappropriately, into this category or that. Which begs the question: in an era where many of us are conscious of our fitness and diet and tend to carry more muscle than fat, why is BMI even used? And why are we penalized by the companies we work for if we don’t meet the benchmark mandated by a test that, by its nature, is flawed
and inaccurate?

Until next time, here’s to healthy living and remember you always have choices. ◆

The information in this article is intended solely as a sharing of information and knowledge based on real life experience. It is not a substitute for professional care, but a complement to it. It should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem; always consult your healthcare provider relating to any suspected health issues you may have.