Why BMI is bogus


I sure am glad we’ve got a news organization like NPR in this country (ahem, hear that Congress?). NPR’s “math guy” Keith Devlin went on Weekend Edition Saturday to completely rip the body mass index, or BMI, a measure used in the U.S. to tell people they’re fat and unhealthy and should generally feel bad about themselves (what, that last part’s not what BMI’s supposed to be doing? Because I see a hell of a lot more fat shaming than anything else).

Devlin’s put together an amusing and enlightening list of 10 reasons why the BMI is bad science and bad policy. A little taste:

8. It makes the more cynical members of society suspect that the medical insurance industry lobbies for the continued use of the BMI to keep their profits high.

Insurance companies sometimes charge higher premiums for people with a high BMI. Among such people are all those fit individuals with good bone and muscle and little fat, who will live long, healthy lives during which they will have to pay those greater premiums.

Check out all 10 reasons and Devlin’s interview — they’re enlightening and seriously call into question the media and government panic every time reports about BMI in the US pop up. Now if you’ll excuse me I need to go find something to eat — reading about the BMI always makes me hungry.

Boston, MA

Jos Truitt is Executive Director of Development at Feministing. She joined the team in July 2009, became an Editor in August 2011, and Executive Director in September 2013. She writes about a range of topics including transgender issues, abortion access, and media representation. Jos first got involved with organizing when she led a walk out against the Iraq war at her high school, the Boston Arts Academy. She was introduced to the reproductive justice movement while at Hampshire College, where she organized the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program’s annual reproductive justice conference. She has worked on the National Abortion Federation’s hotline, was a Field Organizer at Choice USA, and has volunteered as a Pro-Choice Clinic Escort. Jos has written for publications including The Guardian, Bilerico, RH Reality Check, Metro Weekly, and the Columbia Journalism Review. She has spoken and trained at numerous national conferences and college campuses about trans issues, reproductive justice, blogging, feminism, and grassroots organizing. Jos completed her MFA in Printmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute in Spring 2013. In her "spare time" she likes to bake and work on projects about mermaids.

Jos Truitt is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Development.

Read more about Jos

Join the Conversation