When you’re middle-aged, like me, it’s hard to get to and stay at the weight that puts you in the “normal weight” category of the BMI chart. I’ve struggled with these last 10 pounds for 5 years now. It makes me wonder if I’m really supposed to weigh a little more than the BMI chart says is normal for my height.
I’ve come to find out that it may in fact be healthier (especially in middle age) to be a little round.
The BMI chart, which was introduced in the 1800s, has come under fire in recent years because it doesn’t represent the real differences between people.
The International Journal of Obesity puts it succinctly:
“As a measure of body fat, however, BMI has serious flaws. It does not, for example, take age, sex, bone structure, fat distribution or muscle mass into consideration.”
That’s old news…here’s the good part:
In 2013, a meta-analysis looked at mortality and BMI. They reviewed 97 studies that included a total of 3 million people.
They found that, indeed, obese people were more likely than normal weight people to die in a given time range, but that people in the 25-29 BMI range (which is considered merely overweight) were actually 6% LESS likely to die than their peers of normal weight! And this tendency turned out to be even more apparent in the middle-aged group.
The BMI ranges are rather arbitrary and it appears (surprise) that there are some politics involved. Journalist Kiera Butler writes in her article Why BMI is a Big Fat Scam:
“In 1998, the National Institutes of Health lowered the overweight threshold from 27.8 to 25—branding roughly 29 million Americans as fat overnight —to match international guidelines. But critics noted that those guidelines were drafted in part by the International Obesity Task Force, whose two principal funders were companies making weight loss drugs. In his recent book Fat Politics: The Real Story Behind America’s Obesity Epidemic, political scientist Eric Oliver reports that the chairman of the NIH committee that made the decision, Columbia University professor of medicine Xavier Pi-Sunyer, was consulting for several diet drug manufacturers and Weight Watchers International.”
Huh. I happen to have a BMI of 26, which used to be a “normal” weight not so long ago.
Do I still want to get into those skinny jeans without having a muffin top? Yes.
Should we all take a breath and think about our health instead of worrying about looking like a model? Yes.
Set your goals reasonably…don’t make yourself crazy. Landing a little in the overweight category really is OK.