BMI (body mass index) was developed in the mid-1800's as a shorthand way to determine whether someone was in a healthy weight range. BMI does not factor in the bulk of your skeleton (big-boned vs. small-boned or framed) or your muscle vs. fat ratio.
I began to suspect it was a bit of bunk when a man who was 6'2" and shy of 200 lbs told me he was overweight, according to his BMI. We're talking about a large, heavily muscled guy here. I began to further wonder what it was all about when a friend of mine who is an avid runner and regularly competes in half-marathons was told by her doctor that she is "ten pounds overweight."
And how about me? Well, I am 5'6" and about 160 lbs, give or take (I don't own a scale). I generally wear a U.S. size 12 in pants, and about a size 8 in shirts. I'm in reasonably good shape. I can do 3 sets of 10 full-on (not on my knees) push-ups, can walk for miles and up many sets of staircases without getting winded. According to my BMI (31), I am not only overweight, but obese. For reference, this woman
, with a BMI of 27.4, is overweight, but not obese.
All this speculation led me to the suspicion that the American populace is quite possibly not as overweight/obese as statistics tend to show. Then I came across this flickr entry of illustrated BMI categories
. I think the pictures speak for themselves.Edited to replace temporary Fitness Amateur of the Week link with permanent one