April 26, 2005

Mass is different than weight...didn't you take physics?

Here is a website that will compute your Body Mass Index (BMI) for you based on your height and weight. I've always wondered about the BMI calculation, but then I saw the link for Limitations, and it made me feel better. I've been feeling like the BMI was a little fishy ever since I calculated my BMI back in college when I was in the best shape of my life. There I was 5'6" tall, weighing around 155 pounds, and exercising 5 days a week (sometimes twice a day), but my BMI was 25, which is the very bottom of the "Overweight" classification. It seemed a little fishy when I walked around campus and noticed that well over 90% of my fellow students looked fatter than me. We couldn't all be overweight, could we? No, of course not. The main limitation of BMI is that it doesn't work for athletes and muscular people because it overestimates body fat. Most people who are 5'6" and weight 155 pounds are not nearly as strong as I was then. Even today, now that I've gained some weight, it still doesn't work for me. I'm not in great shape, but I'm hardly obese, yet the BMI calculation has me in the upper regions of overweight. Sure, I'm not as thin as I once was, but I'm definitley stronger. I can rest easy knowing that if I can see my abs, there's no way I'm seriously overweight.

Oh, by the way, a fun fact of the BMI calculator. If I assume heights and weights for James and Janet, it turns out they have the same BMI of 19, which is getting close to what is considered "Underweight." This comes with the disclaimer that James and Janet may both actually be lighter than what I guessed, but I doubt either one of them is heavier.

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