July 2014

Me and the BMI

or

Young Geoffrey is a great big fatso


Selfing the uncomfortable truth:
Don't suck in that gut, Young Geoffrey!

June 30, 2014, OTTAWA — I've been unhappy with my body since I was in grade school. I'm not sure where it came from — I was never the fat kid in my class, so I wasn't picked on or bullied about my weight — but as far back as grade 5 or 6 (at least — it might have started even before that) I was conscious of the fact that my clothes came from the Husky rack. That I was, not to put too fine a point on it, chubby.

Now barely six months away from 50 years old, I'm still not happy with my body. Or at least, I'm not happy with the way it looks.

Truth is, I'd still kind of like to have chiseled abs and buns of steel.

But a recent discovery — that according to a widely-used and (presumably) well-thought of metric, the Body Mass Index — seems to have set off a minor revolution in my self-image.

For the record, my personal health metrics are actually pretty good. Since I stopped smoking a few years ago, my heart rate has dropped 20 beats a minute and my blood pressure is consistently "excellent", if various nurses and physicians are to be believed. I play soccer with people half my age, I commute almost 15 kilometres to work (and back) by bicycle and, for the first time probably since I was 15 or so, I sometimes break into a jog just because I feel like it.

Grading on a curve then, for a 49 year North American, and taking into account what my body does for me, I have to judge that I am actually in pretty decent shape.

The BMI, on the other hand, begs to differ.

According to Body Mass Index I am not just carrying a few extra pounds, I am not "a little overweight", or even chubby. No, according to the BMI, I am OBESE.

And you know what? There's something wrong with that picture. There's something wrong with the fact that anyone at all takes that test or takes its results seriously. Click here for a rant on body image and the fetisization of the decimal point.

Spread the word!