Illustrated BMI Categories - a photoset on Flickr: one of the most fascinating things I've found in a while. Whenever health articles cite the Body Mass Index or BMI as a measure of obesity, it's hardly ever questioned. It really just sets and ideal body weight for a height and measures the distance from that point as over, under, or obese. What it obviously doesn't take into account is body composition, and mass due to muscle or fat. Nothing has made that more apparent to me than this flickr photoset. From this collection of photos, it appears that very few body types actually fit the proportions labeled normal. A lot of the people labeled overweight just seem to have a different build than I do.
Which makes me wonder about the definition of a normal height weight ratio for an individual of the human species. If cats, dogs and horses can have wide ranges of normal builds, why not our species? What is a healthy weight compared to the normal BMI range?
Finally, this has really made me reconsider the use of BMI reporting in Pennsylvania schools. First, that these numbers are developed for adults and not children or adolescents, and second that these BMIs in schools are being calculated and reported by people who are not giving an overall health assessment. Between overeating and restricting as lifestyles and not occurrences, what does healthy eating really looks like as a lifestyle, and how far our culture is from that point?
(Has anyone read Pollan's book, the Omnivore's Dilemma, and care to comment? I haven't read it yet)