What do Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tom Cruise and Tony Romo all have in common? They, like me, according to the body mass index for men are apparently overweight even bordering on obese.
I say apparently because I know for a fact that none of us are fat, but according to a Body Mass Index calculator I am overweight.
Lets look at some figures, I am a 34 year old fit male, 178cm tall (5’9″) and weigh 80kg (176 Pound).
When calculating my BMI using these numbers I am classified overweight. The celebrities I have mentioned are also categorized as being overweight according to the Body mass Index. How is this possible? Read on to find out!
What is Body Mass Index for Men & Women?
To start with we need to explore what the Body Mass Index (or BMI for short) actually is.
The BMI is a key index that was invented in 1800’s, which many countries around the world currently use to measure obesity.
The BMI is based on simple calculation comparing a person’s height against their weight to determine if they are obese or not.
So how do you work out your BMI? Like most things on the Internet someone has already gone to the trouble of creating an electronic version of the calculator, so there is no need to re-invent the wheel.
Simply follow this link and check out what your BMI is.
When I put in my details I get this message:
“Your BMI is 26, indicating your weight is in the Overweight category for adults of your height.”
“For your height, a normal weight range would be from 125 to 169 pounds.”
“People who are overweight or obese are at higher risk for chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol.”
When you put in the heights and weights of the celebrities I mentioned before, they return the following results.
What does this mean for me? Should I lose 10 Pounds so that I fit into the normal weight range category? Should I be worried? After all the calculator is telling me that I am overweight!
So what to do? Slightly worried (with a hint of sarcasm), I decide to do a bit of research.
During my research I was relieved to find the BMI has a disclaimer that reads:
“Although the BMI is useful for healthy adults (ages 20 to 65 years), it does not apply to infants, children, adolescents, pregnant or breastfeeding women, endurance athletes, highly muscular people and adults over 65 years of age.”
Well, that’s no help, I’m not an infant, a child, an adolescent, I’m positive I’m not pregnant or breast feeding, nor am I an endurance athlete, highly muscular or over the age of 65.
Based on the disclaimer, Tony Romo (being a professional athlete) and Arnold Schwarzenegger (being highly muscular) can breath a sigh of relief.
But what about poor old Tom Cruise and I, are we still at a higher risk for chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol.
The logical answer is, of course not. Why I hear you ask? Because the BMI is an outdated calculation that is more misleading than it is helpful.
Fundamentally the biggest problem with the Body Mass Index for men and women is, it doesn’t give consideration to an individuals level of fitness or health.
Dr Eric Braverman, medical director of the Path Medical Clinic in New York and co-author of a new study in the journal PLoS ONE, says the BMI should be referred to as the “baloney mass index” because it gets it wrong about half of the time.
For athletes with loads of lean muscle mass, BMI measurements can be misleading because the scale doesn’t differentiate between muscle and fat. That means that the world’s top sports stars are often classified as overweight.
The BMI Solution
The simple answer to end the confusion is don’t worry about the BMI index. We are talking about a system that was invented in the 1800’s. Since the BMI was invented, we have come up with much more accurate means of checking how healthy we actually are.
Instead you should be focused on being active, eating well and reducing your body fat percentage.
Dr Braverman is concerned with the study’s findings, saying fat is behind today’s cancers, heart attacks, stroke and gall bladder problems.
“Fat is what gives you a terrible future,” he said.
He says rather than measuring your fat, all the BMI does is adjust your weight to your height.
So if you are concerned about your health, head on down to your doctor or a suitable qualified personal trainer and have your body fat percentage measured.
A Simple Test
Another really simple option if you are concerned about your health, that you can do in the comfort of your own home, is to measure your waist.
For most people a waist measurement of greater than 37 inches (94cm) for men or 31.5 inches (80cm) for women is an indicator of internal fat deposits, which can coat the heart, kidneys, liver and pancreas, and increase the risk of chronic disease.
These waist measurements are based on findings by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the findings of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), that site clinical evidence supporting waist measurement as an accepted indicator of risk.
How To Measure Your Waist
To find out your level of risk, it is important to measure your waist circumference accurately:
- The tape measure should be placed directly on your skin, or on no more than one layer of light clothing.
- The correct place to measure your waist is horizontally halfway between your lowest rib and the top of your hipbone. This is roughly in line with your belly button.
- Breathe out normally and take the measure.
- Make sure the tape is snug, without squeezing the skin.
So where does that leave me? Well I can happily report that I am not overweight or at risk of chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol.
My waist measurement is 31 inches (79cm) which is well below the at risk range and my body fat is only 9%, which is well and truly at the lower end of the scale. I’m thinking that Tom Cruise should be fine as well.
If you do the test and find that your waist measurement is on the higher side, you should consider taking a look at my recommended nutrition plan <— Link to Website. Once your nutrition is in order I recommend you have a look at my recommended training program for women <— Link to Website or my recommended training plan for men <— Link to Website.
If you have any questions or queries about the BMI make sure you drop a comment below. I would also love to hear from some healthy fit people with outrageous BMI numbers!