Updated: Mar 27, 2020
One of the first pieces of information you ever learn about yourself is your BMI - short for Body Mass Index.
I remember going to my pediatrician as a kid and learning whether I had a “healthy BMI” or not.
I remember gym classes in school taking our height and our weight and teaching us the importance of having a BMI within a “healthy range.”
But what is the BMI really?
Developed in the 1830’s this ancient and antiquated tool was originally used to assess health based on easily obtained information: your height and your weight.
BMI = weight (kg) / height ^2
Before computers and blood tests the BMI was a practical tool for doctors to use to measure health.
But as you can see this chart is OVERSIMPLIFIED and neglects key indicators of true health.
The trouble, however, is that many (if not most) doctors still use BMI to discern whether a patient is healthy or not.
👉Full disclosure: According to my BMI I’ve been overweight my whole life.
But I’m not!
And what does that really even mean?! “Over. Weight.” Over what weight? Over normal? Over healthy? Over society’s preferred size?
It’s all a little mind-boggling, but many people learn whether their BMI is in a normal range or not beginning at an early age.
Being labeled as "underweight," "overweight," or "obese" can have serious effects on a child's self-esteem and self-concept.
And those labeled as "normal" are also at risk - for different reasons.
Doctors make many assumptions about a person's health based on their BMI which can be very misleading.
People with a "normal weight" can actually be quite sick. While people who are "overweight" may have more muscle tone, better sleeping habits, and more positive relationships in their life.
BMI IS NOT AN INDICATOR OF HEALTH.
Read that again and again and again.
👉HEALTH is not determined by your height.
👉HEALTH is not determined by your weight.
👉and HEALTH is not determined by the relationship between the two.
HEALTH is determined by:
amount of sleep
amount of movement
quality of relationships
time in nature
AND SO MUCH MORE.
But NOT BMI.
What does this mean for you?
The next time anyone talks to you about your BMI you can let it roll in one ear and out the other.
When a doctor wants to focus on your BMI and uses that metric as an indicator of your health, be an advocate for TRUE health. Challenge their assumptions. Ask questions.
Ask around and try to find a doctor who works from a Health at Every Size lens. This will ensure you're being seen for more than a number on a scale.
Protect your children from discussions about their BMI with doctors. Request that doctors do not discuss your child's BMI or weight with you while they are in the room.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I'm sorry on behalf of diet culture and all of our years of conditioning that we're having to preach this message.
If you want to get started un-doing years of brainwashing you've received about your BMI and what "healthy, normal weight" looks like then this free download is for you.
Sending you lots of love and self-compassion as you navigate these waters. You are loved. You are enough. You are PERFECT just the way you are. ♥