It’s a Big World …

Someone shared a link on twitter to a BBC site where you can calculate your BMI. That in itself is not that interesting. It is pretty easy to do yourself. But the interesting bit is that it takes the result and compares it to your country average in your age/gender group. It also compares it to the world as a whole. It even gives you a chart showing where you fall among a list of 177 countries.

My BMI is in the middle of that healthy 19–25 range. I have had to work a bit to get it there, so all that is fine, but I was more surprised to discover that my BMI is lower than 73% of women in my country – and the same level as the average in Chad. Is the world really getting that overweight? When I, with a perfectly normal bodyweight, am that uncommon?

Try it for yourself here:


Someone pointed out to me that BMI is useless because it isn’t an exact representation for every body type. Like for instance it doesn’t account for over-average muscle mass. That is true, but the point of BMI is to give an indication of a healthy body weight range for an average individual. It is not a diagnosis tool. Neither is it exact as it accounts for only two sets of data. It is a weak statistical correlation. Wonder if anyone actually have the p-value?

From Wikipedia:

BMI provided a simple numeric measure of a person’s “thickness” or “thinness”, allowing health professionals to discuss over- and under-weight problems more objectively with their patients. However, BMI has become controversial because many people, including physicians, have come to rely on its apparent numerical authority for medical diagnosis, but that was never the BMI’s purpose; it is meant to be used as a simple means of classifying sedentary (physically inactive) individuals, or rather, populations, with an average body composition.

More info:  Body Mass Index and Health (pdf)

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