Myth: According To The BMI Chart, My Weight Is Normal
If the weight charts are what’s healthy, why do they keep rising?
We have been conditioned to believe that plump is healthy, and it is not. As an example, at 5’ 8 ”, I weigh 135 lbs. According to the Body Mass Index, I could gain another 25 lbs. without being overweight! It also tells me that the leanest I should be is 15%-19% body fat. I am occasionally below that, while totally healthy, all curves intact, and without an extremely thin appearance. And I don’t have “small bones.”
I guarantee you that if I gain even 10 of that 25 lbs., I am overweight and feel the effects of it: sluggishness, inability to run distances, decreased libido, and negative thoughts/moods, just to name a few of many symptoms.
The weight chart is based on averages. So, as average weights have increased, so has the government’s acceptable weight ranges. I visited Fenway Park in Boston recently, where park management has preserved a section of the original seating. We sat in the chairs during our tour, and everyone was thunderstruck at how tiny they are. Half of Americans wouldn’t even fit in Fenway Park’s original seats!
We are being lulled into complacency as more and more of us become overweight. We’ve started to believe that chubby is thin, and fat is chubby. We’ve started to disparage naturally-thin-but-healthy people. They write me emails begging for ways to increase their weight.
This is not to discount the fact that heredity does play a part, that bone size plays a part, and that everyone is different. Certainly a person who is 5’8” could have a different weight than I do, less or more, and be healthy. But if fat has collected around the belly, hips, neck, or thighs, that isn’t an ideal weight regardless of what a “healthy height and weight chart” says.
The current charts are based on averages, and the averages aren’t healthy.
That someone can be “too thin” is certainly a possibility, especially if that person has an eating disorder, is eating an extreme diet that is deficient in important nutrients, or has an unaddressed digestive disorder. Some problems of severe underweight do lead to questions of whether the person may have cancer, parasites, or serious digestive or nutrient-absorption problems.
But in other nations that do not have an obesity epidemic, very thin people are normal people. They eat plants, which are naturally low in fat, and they live longer than we do, free of degenerative diseases. In fact, the #1 factor that has been identified with longevity is leanness. Extremely thin people live the longest and are the healthiest.
But body fat—especially belly fat—is a danger to heart health, even a little bit of it. Just because one fits in the reassuring zones called “lean” of a government-designed healthy height and weight chart does not mean one is at a healthy weight.
Remember that the government wants to make standards do-able for the average person, and their standards are based on averages, not what is actually healthy. (Their standards keep changing!) Don’t make the mistake of thinking that the lowest-common-denominator standard of the U.S. Government is definitive advice.