Posts Tagged ‘bmi’

Is body mass index (BMI) useful?

Tuesday, February 21st, 2017 | Science

BMI is much despised by the public. However, before it is written off completely, we should consider what the implications are for the medical world.

People are constantly railing against BMI. They insist that it is simply stupid and insulting to label them as obese and that BMI doesn’t mean anything anyway.

But is that the case?

The answer is somewhere in the middle. From a medical perspective, there is little doubt that BMI is useful. A 2016 study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) confirmed that a high BMI was indeed associated with an increased risk of death.

However, a 2006 paper by the U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research, points out that there are some serious flaws in the simplicity of BMI as it fails to distinguish between fat from muscle.

Another paper in the BMJ suggested that BMI was indeed useful, but that what was considered a “normal” weight should be redefined. A weight of 18.5 to 20, for example, is defined as normal, but could actually be correlated with higher mortality.

Therefore, it seems BMI is a useful tool, but only when taken as a guide. It could be that the normal weight needs to be adjusted upwards slightly and that those with high muscle density will find they have an inaccurate reading.

Body dissatisfaction

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012 | Religion & Politics, Science, Thoughts

I’ve started to pile on some pounds (we really need to come up with an updated term that reflects the metric system I know and love) recently, to the point where I’ve gone from the most perfect weight a human being has ever weighed to having only four kilograms of wiggle room before I’m no longer in my target BMI.

It’s very distressing because I lead, on the whole, a very healthily lifestyle and if Rob Lyons is to be believed you could probably even drop the “on the whole” qualification.

Still, after a long day of carrying my fat body around, I do enjoy sitting down and catching up on Stuart Ritchie’s Twitter feed, which provides a refreshing change from the normally interlectually void stream of inane nonsense that normally comes through (Alex, Lil and George while at Fab, though I enjoy that stuff as well).

Recently, he tweeted about a new report which suggests that female body dissatisfaction is primary caused by inter-peer competitiveness, and not the media.

Based on the results of the study, the report concludes that media exposure actually has minimal impact on how unhappy women are with their bodies, in comparison to the significant effect that inter-peer competitiveness has.

So why are we always being told that it’s the media that are ruining our teenage daughters?

This reminds me the video games cause violent crime argument. It was a fact that a lot of people spread, and then we looked at the actual evidence and it turned out that video games do not cause violent crime. Though even after that, people continue to toot that horn.

In both cases, you have to wonder who is spreading this? Presumedly, it isn’t the media trying to give themselves a bad name (of course it could be different sectors of the media attacking each other). Is it just genuinely honest but misinformed people running pressure groups? Do we just assume that it is the case because it seems to fit the puzzle?