Tuesday, January 21, 2014

BMI Charts: Not All They're Cracked Up to Be

There is a picture floating around with plus-sized model Robyn Lawley, a picture that has created some great discussion about what exactly constitutes a plus-sized model. Whatever people think about Cosmo calling her that, it turns out that Robyn calls herself that! What does Robyn look like?


If this is a plus-sized model... But I digress.

I saw a comment one woman posted on Facebook, with her height and weight and a comment that she must be obese if Cosmo says this model is plus-sized. To be honest, my immediate reaction to seeing the height and weight was, "Um, that sounds obese to me." I didn't write it, just had the thought cross my mind.

Forever the researcher, I went onto Google and looked up a BMI chart. According to BMI charts (regardless of the one I looked at), the woman is obese. But then I actually had a look at her photos. Hm. She's overweight, but not what I would consider obese. And there I was reminded of why I don't trust BMI charts and neither should you. Yes, they can give a general idea, but they can not proclaim in stone. For example, when I look at the chart for my height,  I'm sure I would fall into the overweight category before I hit the weight they say I would need. On some charts, the lowest weight (the lower 18 BMI) they say I can be before being underweight is definitely too low for me. I know somebody who was using the BMI chart as a way to set a goal weight, because according to the chart, if she hit a particular weight, she would no longer be overweight. But once she hit that number, she still appeared overweight, especially since she carries her excess weight more in her belly than elsewhere. Someone else I know said that if she actually hit the highest acceptable healthy mark, she would actually be too skinny; the BMI chart does not take into consideration bone structure, muscle mass, etc. Like I said, the BMI chart can be a guideline, but it's not the be-all, end-all of whether you are overweight or not.

For what it's worth, Robyn Lawley's reported weight from a time when she looked heavier than in the picture above was well within the healthy guidelines. Even if the BMI chart said she was overweight, would anybody believe it? It is a shame that she has to be in the plus-sized market at a healthy weight!

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