March 2019
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health cannot be measured by BMI, nor by weight.

This is a topic that many people are deeply invested in. It tears down a ranking system, and that always causes uproar -- even from those whom it oppresses. Those whom it oppresses may not be the highest in the ranking system, but at least they aren't as 'bad' as those below them, and for those who have low self esteem, that comparison is very important. Also, there is simply a fear of the unknown -- in this case, life without a certain type of comparison.

Health cannot be accurately measured by weight. (neither can beauty, but that is another subject) Our society has a ranking system called BMI -- a number calculated by your height and weight -- that supposedly tells us how healthy we are. The more healthy, the better, as we praise supposedly 'fit' people. However, this ranking system is inherently flawed. First of all, it was created as a tool for statistical analysis -- to be able to create groups based on rough body size, for studies. It was never intended to be a measurement of health, and has not been tested for accuracy. For instance, no one has ever proven that a 5'5" woman is any more healthy at 140 pounds than she is at 120 or 160. You'd think with a chart used to diagnose people as being healthy, extensive testing would have been done at every level -- but since BMI was not intended for that purpose, it has not been.

BMI does not take into account muscle (which weighs more than fat) or frame size, and more importantly it does not take into account how active a person is or how healthily they eat. Many studies have shown that activity level has far more to do with fitness than weight does. Weight is a symptom of ill health -- it only becomes a cause of ill health in extreme cases. Increasing one's fitness will do much more for one's health than decreasing one's weight. We think we can look at a person and determine how fit they are by how thick they are -- but the fat and active are healthier than the thin and inactive.

"Dr Rick Kausman, Australian Medical Association spokesman, believes in looking beyond body size — instead focusing on fitness as a measure of true health. 'We’ve been brainwashed to believe that healthy weight is a size 8 . . . We’re clearly not all meant to have a BMI of 22, or be a size eight or 10,' he says. 'Human beings are meant to come in all shapes and sizes. We have to allow our weight to be the healthiest it can be to us, not to anyone else.'" --

"Paul Campos, law professor at the University of Colorado and author of The Obesity Myth, agrees. 'What a healthy weight is for you as an individual has little or nothing to do with what a healthy weight is for anybody else,' he explains. 'Within a very broad range, a healthy weight is the weight that a particular individual maintains while living a healthy life.'" --

"'I don't believe height and weight is a good indication of health,' said Joanne Ikeda, co-director of the Center for Weight and Health at the University of California at Berkeley. 'If a fat person or obese person has normal blood pressure, if their total cholesterol and glucose levels are normal and they are healthy, there is no reason they should necessarily have to lose weight.'" --

LJ idol topic 13: "Current Events" ((if you liked/got something from this, please vote for me))

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rockstarjoker4 ══╣╠══
Thanks for this post. It's a great self esteem booster for everyone who DOESN'T fit into society's limited ideas of whats considered "healthy"
belenen ══╣passionate╠══
you're welcome! it's something that I get really passionate (and annoyed) about.
Sam and Friends
puppetmaker40 ══╣Sam and Friends╠══
Bravo! Lets junk the numbers and re-examine this what is healthy idea. It is silly how we make somethings the end-all and be-all where all it should be is a guideline.
belenen ══╣strong╠══
well, actually I think it shouldn't even be a guideline, except in the very broadest sense. Feeling strong and energetic and flexible and having a lot of stamina, that should be the guideline. A body knows what it is supposed to be shaped like.
curvygirl -- me (organic)
belenen ══╣curvygirl -- me (organic)╠══
I don't want to edit this now because I think that is against the rules, but I plan to add this after voting is over:

I am 5'4" and the BMI chart says my ideal weight is 140. However, for six months I worked on a farm, doing hard physical labor at LEAST two hours every day, getting 8 hours of sleep every night, eating organic, mostly vegetarian food with very little empty carbs or sugar -- I was at the very healthiest I could be. And I weighed 160. I'm just one story of how the BMI cannot predict a healthy weight for anyone.
spydielives ══╣╠══
Numbers are statistics, not always facts.

I walk, climb stairs, exercise regularly...

And I am considered morbidly obese because I dare be only 5'2" and around 200 lb.

I have photos of me when I (as recently as 2005) had lost an incredible amount of weight in a short time [so close to 140]. That was still considered overweight, but I look emaciated.
belenen ══╣strong╠══
Re: Numbers are statistics, not always facts.
Exactly! the body knows what you're supposed to be shaped like. You take care of it, and it will take its proper shape. The problem is that we have these stereotypes of what that proper shape is. *shakes head*
happystance ══╣flower╠══
I was under the impression that the BMI does take muscle into accountability. I used to get measured, poked and whatnot when I had a personal trainer who calculated everything including my muscle percentage. I do know that the most accurate way is this water method, which obviously we dont do for obvious reasons. My frame size was taken into account also. I had to actually have a lower BMI because of the fact I was asian. I was never told that I had to be 120lbs. I am 5'3 and my healthy weight is supposed to be at 162lbs, which I dont think is terribly low at all. Its perfect, because I remember being at that weight and feeling really healthy. My BMI is supposed to be at 29% or so.

I havent read extensively about this topic, but I know chunks here and there from my courses.
belenen ══╣passionate╠══
hm, well strictly speaking the BMI does not take into account fat percentage -- it's just a formula that includes weight and height. The measuring and stuff you're talking about sounds like a fat percentage test (using calipers?) which is pretty helpful for knowing how much of you is muscle and how much isn't. The bmi calculators would say that you are not supposed to be 162, which I agree sounds pretty reasonable. I would be interested to know of the way that they took your measurements/frame size because that sounds like a much more appropriate way of determining fitness.
happystance ══╣╠══
love thy curves
frecklestars ══╣love thy curves╠══
As I just found out that I am one point away from being overweight (according to that "lovely" BMI system), it's been wreaking a little havoc on my ED recovery process. Thank you for reminding that some people are sane in this world and understand that BMI is a STUPID way to measure things.
belenen ══╣passionate╠══
not only stupid but utterly useless! your body is the only one who really knows what your size and shape should be. If you take care of it, it will be its best shape!
brightlotusmoon ══╣╠══
I'm happy that you wrote about this -- I know the debate with my friend over in my post was frustrating (she is autistic and can get invested), and I know both of you meant well, and I just wanted to let you know that.

A huge part of the reason I slid into anorexia was the delusion that because I am so short and small -- 4'11" with a small frame -- I needed to weigh very little. I needed to be the thinnest. Weighing over one hundred pounds frightened me for a long long time. I developed disordered eating as a child for various reasons, and when I became an adult I became anorexic, depriving my body of its chance to grow into its ideal, natural weight.
My father's family is pure Sicilian, my mother's family is Russian/Romanian/Hungarian Jewish. On my mother's side, all the women are very thin and small. On my father's side, all the women are very curvy and small. When I finally began healing, genetics went to work and I became what is known as "slender curvy." I developed a true hourglass shape, which puzzled and worried me, despite everyone telling me how beautiful and "biologically ideal" my figure was. All I could focus on were the wide hips and round buttocks -- add to that lordosis, aka swayback, which caused the buttocks to be more prominent, and it took me years to feel "normal" and "healthy." CurvyGirls helped a lot.
When I was sick, I measured my waist and hips obsessively. If my numbers stayed low, I felt like I had "won." If they went even an inch larger, I would panic. It's still taking me a long time to recover from that. My ideal weight -- for me, and me alone -- is on the slightly high end of the "standard height weight chart" for a woman who is 4'11" with a small frame. I have wide hips. I can't starve myself to try and force my hips to be "supermodel" size. I hear about supermodels who are ten inches taller than me who have my exact measurements, who wear my exact size, and I used to worry that compared to them, I was too heavy for my height.
I am just now learning that my mother may have had something to do with this. The last time I visited her, she asked me my weight and then seemed shocked and worried, and insisted that I could probably lose some weight because "it would take the strain off my hips." I was angry at her for a while. I wasn't even close to overweight -- my hips were fine! And then I watched her eating habits and saw that she ate like a bird, and that she really was very very thin.

I don't know if numbers are allowed, but I'll give you numbers if that's okay.

I'm sorry for rambling, but you seem like such a good listener.
belenen ══╣honesty╠══
no worries, I wasn't upset over the commentation on your post (and I apologize if I was upsetting! I should probably check if it's okay with you before I go blathering on next time, heh). It just irks me that this is a system at all, when it has no basis in reality. *argh!*

oh I don't mind numbers. I've long since lost the fear that I once had. ;-) Nowadays all they mean to me is a helpful tool for ordering off of ebay :D

thank you so much! what a beautiful compliment ♥ *hugs* feel free to ramble to me anytime!
brightlotusmoon ══╣╠══
elva_undine ══╣╠══
kevloid2008 ══╣╠══
oreo ice cream is better. :-)
roina_arwen ══╣╠══
kevloid2008 ══╣╠══
roina_arwen ══╣╠══
kevloid2008 ══╣╠══
roina_arwen ══╣╠══
belenen ══╣╠══
Weight Loss
jennieknits ══╣Weight Loss╠══
A friend posted this yesterday and I thought I'd hare it with you.

It shows pictures of women, their weight and BMI, and what they're considered based on their BMI. It's really sad to see women who look skinny who are considered overweight or vice versa.

Great post.
porcelain_ocean ══╣╠══
I flicked through it and happened to find a friend from college, that's so awesome :)
belenen ══╣╠══
bezigebij ══╣╠══
Interesting article. I've always considered the BMI charts bogus. As a runner I have a lot of muscle and thus weigh a lot. I'm 5'8'' and normally weigh around 160, but right now (due to very unhealthy emotional trumoil) I'm down to 150. Am I healthier right now because my BMI is lower? Not a chance.
belenen ══╣powerful╠══
yes, exactly! bmi is so useless.
walkertxkitty ══╣╠══
I've been saying this for years. As I mentioned in a similar entry, I'm beyond overweight. My metabolism is burnt out because I have brain damage.

However, the medical profession fails to explain why I have better vitals (blood pressure, cholesterol levels, triglycerides, etc) than someone who weighs less than I do and is considered at a healthy weight.

Now, I'm not a healthy specimen of the human populace because I do have severe medical issues but not one of them could be fixed, cured, or caused by my weight. It's all unfortunate genetics.

I do wish people would look at the full picture. If you took just my statistics, minus my weight, and put it in with other individuals, not only would I be marked a healthy specimen of society but no one looking at it would ever get anywhere near my true weight.
belenen ══╣passionate╠══
I think that shows pretty clearly that health and weight are independent factors! Thanks for sharing your story -- just like so many others you show that bmi is crap.
porcelain_ocean ══╣╠══
I found you on LJ Idol
I absolutely loved this entry. Being bombarded with thousands of images every day of waif thin models and the threats of everything that will happen when we're fat is incredibly draining. Thank you for putting a new spin on an issue that always seems to be on our minds.

For the record I'm 5'9 and 153lbs, which puts me squarely into the "normal" range, but I feel I have so much more to accomplish physically in order for me to be healthy. I'm not a complete couch potato, but I need to get my butt outside more often. It makes me realize that even though I'm considered healthy doesn't really mean I AM healthy
belenen ══╣passionate╠══
Re: I found you on LJ Idol
I'm glad you loved the entry! And yeah, that's a side that people often don't consider -- not only does bmi say that healthy people are unhealthy, it says that unhealthy people are healthy! it's so inaccurate.
kevloid2008 ══╣╠══
true, weight CAN be meaningless - if you're an athlete.

if you train like an athlete, of course a lot of your weight will be muscle. if you only exercise a few hours a week, muscle accounts for a much smaller percentage. if you sit on the couch or at the computer all day, c'mon - it's prettymuch all fat.

BEST indicator of one's health is to ask a doctor's opinion. that's really the only opinion a person should listen to. he can even test your body density (fat content). most people aren't qualified to self-diagnose.


that being said, it's prettymuch fact that carrying too much belly weight will put a lot of strain on your back.
belenen ══╣passionate╠══
it's meaningless even if you're not an athlete, and are active enough to stay healthy, as you can read in the links above. (I've read many more sources also) Obviously lack of activity will cause all kinds of health problems -- that isn't the point. The point is, you can't tell how healthy a person is from how much they weigh.
kevloid2008 ══╣╠══
belenen ══╣╠══
kevloid2008 ══╣╠══
belenen ══╣╠══
redarmy_pariah ══╣╠══
i loved this entry :) very well said. my old doctor (who i have recently abandoned for a better educated doctor who cares more about his patients actual health than laser hair removal) kept telling me i needed to get down to 120 lbs. now, at 5'4" and 165, i'm hovering between "overweight" and "obese" BMI, but i'm very healthy. my cholesterol is great, blood pressure is 100/50 last i checked, tho my sugar is pretty low (after i ate, it shot up to an 85, lol), i can walk all around town and not get winded (i have childhood asthma, so if i run, that's a different story). his excuse : "your asthma will disappear if you lose weight." i told him it's childhood asthma that i'd had for 24 years since i was 5, and it didnt miraculously disappear when i was anorexic and suddenly reappear just the other day. it doesnt happen that way. then he said "according to your BMI blah blah blah." i told him "my shoulders are 44", i'm not built like an arabian horse, i'm built like a freakin' clydesdale (lol)." he looked at me like i was stupid. when i get to 140, you can start seeing hipbones, collarbones, and the part of the collarbone that attaches to your shoulder starts to jut out quite a bit, not to mention my ribs start becoming visible. why would i want to get to 120, when all that happens at 20pounds more than what he wants me to be?

my new doctor said BMI is crap. if my sugar, cholesterol, blood pressure, etc are fine, i'm all good. if you put my younger sister and i next to each other, by the BMI and media's standards of skinny=healthy, you'd say she was the healthier one. which is untrue as i'm more active and my numbers (sugar/bp/chol) are at a healthier number, not to mention my awesome bone-mass that my new doc said i have less of a chance of getting osteoporosis than someone who wasnt built like a viking.

sorry...i didnt mean to ramble ^^;;;; i just really dislike the whole BMI="god's answer to the universe" that so many people believe it is.
belenen ══╣powerful╠══
your new doc sounds awesome! wish I could find one so clever. I can't respect any doctor who believes in bmi when it contradicts everything else! *spits* bmi is useless.
lj idol
clauderainsrm ══╣lj idol╠══
Happy Birthday!!!
belenen ══╣amused╠══
heh, belated thanks!
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on communication, social justice, intimacy, consent, friendship & other relationships, spirituality, gender, queerness, & dreams. Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.
Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.