The “War on Obesity” was intended to promote health and has actually done the exact opposite. Using BMI to measure health has infused weight stigma into the medical profession, fitness profession, and has been a major contributor to diet culture. (Think of diet culture as that sneaky message telling you that if only you’d lose some weight, you’d finally be happy, healthy, pretty, or some other idealistic adjective that makes you feel less-than).
It turns out that weight/BMI is not a valid measurement of health. People can exist in a wide variety of sizes while being healthy, unhealthy, or somewhere along the health continuum. And while weight may be a variable of health at the extreme ends of the weight spectrum, focusing solely on weight loss to improve health is not effective.
Way too often, physicians, dietitians, and personal trainers will pull out the scale and BMI chart to “encourage” you to be healthier. Are you actually encouraged by this? Or is it a feeling of shame, embarrassment or perhaps humiliation? Last time I checked, this does not support mental OR physical health.
At The Current, we NEVER weigh our clients because 1). We cannot shame you into “health”… nor do we want to and 2). Your weight has very little to do with your health.
Here’s why the BMI is bulls*$! and not a valid measurement of health:
- It does not take age, sex, bone structure, fat distribution or muscle mass into consideration
- BMI neglects lifestyle behaviors (activity levels, nutrition, stress, etc)
- It does not take into consideration social determinants of health (access to food, environment, etc)
- The BMI chart neglects your genetic profile
- It was created by a White European man with White European male participants (not representative of our diverse populations)
- It was created as a screening tool, not a diagnostic tool
- In 1998, the BMI chart was even scaled down overnight for “health concerns” from the NIH and AHA. This came from studies where weight was linked to metabolic diseases (which we now know are not valid).
- The lowest incidence of death is actually in the overweight and obese categories
Yes, that last bullet is research-based. It’s almost hard to believe, given the messages we receive in school, from our doctor, in the media, the list goes on. Diet culture is so entrenched and it’s time that we question it’s every move. Let’s start by throwing out the scale.
Interested in pursuing wellness coaching or counseling that is weight-inclusive? Contact us to schedule your free consultation. We will chat about your experiences, goals, and the best next steps for your wellness.
More resources on BMI: