I Wish I Could Uninvent the BMI Scale

Available from Theodora’s Emporium and Amazon.

If you could un-invent something, what would it be?

This might sound weird. So, before you assume where I’m going with it, hear me out:


The BMI chart shouldn’t’ve been invented – at least, not repurposed for what we currently use it for. The BMI chart wasn’t invented for medical use by a doctor but by a Mathematician – Adolphe Quetelet. It was created as part of a social physics experiment/hypothesis and only studied white cisgender men.

Ancel Keys released a paper in 1972 stating that the BMI scale was: “if not fully satisfactory, at least as good as any other relative weight index as an indicator of relative obesity”. While Keys was right in several aspects of his physiology career, this is one of the things he got wrong.

The BMI scale doesn’t take into account your waist size, muscle mass, fat mass, or other variables that are different from one person to the next. And, going back to the origin of BMI, let’s not ignore the blatant issue of the creation – only studying men, specifically white men.

Besides the fact women have higher fat storage and essential fat requirement than men, women, on average, are also shorter. So, how does a scale that measures men going to benefit women?

It doesn’t.

In the same way most research into Autism is damaging towards anyone diagnosed who isn’t a man – because different diagnoses’ look different on or in different people and groups.

The fact that a paper was written up and produced in the last century with such inaccuracies and oversights is horrifying. But then again, it was in my lifetime that Dr Andrew Wakefield committed one of the biggest medical research frauds in history – suggesting that the MMR vaccine causes Autism…

I wish I could uninvent the BMI scale. Because, besides it being sexist, it is also known to be inherently racist. Due to bodies differing in both sex groups but also across ethnicities, the BMI scale has been used to indicate that those of African descent are obese when they’re actually of a healthy size, especially in women.

The scale is routinely used in the USA to indicate what level of insurance someone would need, suggesting that the higher on the scale you are, the higher your chance of cardiac injury. But, I think we can all look at Olympic athletes in this case and question: are they at higher risk of a cardiac episode than us? Certainly not because of their weight.

The BMI scale shouldn’t be used to determine if someone is fit and well. And certainly shouldn’t be the justification for ill-treatment.

Though, with that being said, I’ve had enough medical trauma to know that when you get a doctor who only looks at your BMI chart, you will not be taken care of.

Broken bone?
“Have you tried losing weight?”

“Have you tried losing weight?”

“Have you tried losing weight?”

And my personal favourite:

“Have you tried losing weight?”

After spending over 20 years of my life, as a 25-year-old, trying to lose weight due to the BMI scale and doctors who don’t care – I wish I could uninvent the BMI scale…
For everyone’s sake.



error: Alert: Content selection is disabled!!
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close