BMI Charts

on 6/6/19 9:43 pm

As a relative newcomer to this web site (about 5 months) I am constantly amazed at how much attention is paid to the BMI charts out there. If you read the popular media sources you know that there are more obese people in the US that at any time in history. My question is, are there really? More than 40 years ago, when I was in high school and taking my athletic physical, I was about 5'-9" and weighed about 185 pounds. It's worth noting that I was wearing 34" pants at the time. According to the BMI chart of the day I was about 20 pounds overweight. I raised this concern with my personal doctor and he told not to pay attention to those BMI charts because the only way I was going to weigh 165 pounds is if I were dead. Today I was checking the BMI chart at our weight loss clinic and according to that chart, my high weight for being normal is now 137 pounds. A few years ago I had my body fat measured by using a caliper of sorts, and comparing that to my weight at the time. The bottom line is that my fat free mass (with 0% fat) is 192 pounds now, ideal weight range is somewhere between 210 and 230. That number is completely off the charts on the current BMI chart. If doctors knew these charts were poppy**** 45 years ago, why are they so important now?

Amy R.
on 6/7/19 12:30 am

This is an interesting question and I'm looking forward to reading the answers you get.

For my part, I seem to remember BMI charts being presented as a more realistic method of charting weight than the old Met Life table. It gets awfully confusing though and honestly sometimes I think people choose the measuring system that works best for them. In other words helping them get the answer they are looking for.

Example: I weigh 142 pounds at 5'6". According to the BMI chart I am normal weighted. However, according to the old Met Life table calculations, at 5'6" my weight wouldn't be "normal" unless it was closer to 130 pounds.

When a person gets down to this "normal-ish" weight range it becomes possible (though not easy) to massage the numbers in a way calculated to give the most desired response.

on 6/7/19 4:07 am


The problem with charts, ANY charts is that they don't take any individual differences into account. My point is that the ONLY accurate measure is measuring fat mass, and the only way to do that is through the method I mentioned. What's even more interesting is that the Exercise Physiologist that is employed at our clinic is that she learned exactly the same thing during her college studies.

Citizen Kim
on 6/7/19 5:46 am, edited 6/6/19 10:46 pm - Castle Rock, CO

I'm not sure how your BMI normal weight is 135 and "ideal" is 210 to 230lbs. As a 6ft woman, quite a bit taller than you, I'd definitely be way overweight at that weight!!!!

This chart takes your age into account and is more generous.

Smart BMI

A dexa scan is the best way to calculate your fat percentage. I had mine done with an RMR to determine I was healthy, which coincided with me being at the top of a normal BMI.

Proud Feminist, Atheist, LGBT friend, and Democratic Socialist

on 6/7/19 6:27 am

Kim my ideal weight range is based on my actual muscle mass. Charts are government-created objects that any serious medical professional realizes has little to no basis in fact. My body weight, were I at 0% fat, would still be 194 pounds due to my muscle mass and bone structure.

Citizen Kim
on 6/7/19 8:43 am, edited 6/7/19 1:51 am - Castle Rock, CO

They told you this with calipers? That's not how it works, but ok.

I'll take my dexa scan over your calipers.

You carry on with your 195lbs of bone and muscle and 0% fat on a what, 5ft 9" frame?

Proud Feminist, Atheist, LGBT friend, and Democratic Socialist

on 6/20/19 6:31 am - NC
VSG on 03/11/15

I just checked out that Smart BMI scale.. I like the fact that it takes age into consideration. Also like the "advice" and interpretation of each aspect.. thank you..



on 6/7/19 5:50 am
RNY on 06/03/15

137 lbs as the high end for 5'9" sounds really off. I'm 5'6" and the normal BMI range for me is something like 114-154 (I know the high end (154) for sure because I'm AT the high end - not sure about that low end because I could never get down that low). That 137 might be the old MetLife number - I don't think that's used much anymore. My MetLife number is around 130 and even at my lowest weight (138), my fat percentage was below normal - so it wasn't a healthy weight for me.

BMI ranges are huge (like 30 lbs) to account for things like frame size, body composition, etc - but still, they aren't the best gauge for reasons you mentioned. They work for most people, but not everyone. Fat percentage is probably a better way to measure whether you're overweight or not..

on 6/7/19 9:05 am

Cat I double checked our chart this morning and I was wrong, I should have said that 157 was the top end, according to the chart.

on 6/7/19 7:18 am
VSG on 08/14/14

I don't find BMI charts to be worthless. But like every other "authority" they do require some common-sense interpretation.

For example, if I were a heavily muscled male athlete the BMI charts would not be nearly as useful as if I were a 73 year old very active woman who does a lot of yoga and walking and has no mobility or health issues (and that's what I am).

Any all right/all wrong, good/evil interpretation of any tool that attempts to categorize all of humanity seems a little silly to me. Humans are a huge population with some interesting sub-populations and outlier groups.

My advice is to use the tools that work best for you. And don't assume the ones that don't work for you aren't appropriate for anyone else.

Y'all be careful out there. :)

ANN 5'5", AGE 74, HW 235.6 (BMI 39.2), SW 216, GW 150, CW 132, BMI 22

POUNDS LOST: Pre-op -20, M1 -10, M2 -11, M3 -10, M4 -10, M5 -7, M6 -5, M7 -6, M8 -4, M9 -4,
NEXT 10 MOS. -12, TOTAL -100 LBS.