New BMI Calculation Makes Women ‘Fatter’ and Men ‘Slimmer’?

An article in the Telegraph in the UK published on Monday said that the way we have calculated BMI for years is actually inaccurate.  It made taller people (over 6′ or so) seem heavier, while shorter people (under 5’5″ or so) were seen as slimmer.  The new method reverses the fact, so that those who are on the tall side will have a lower BMI while those who are shorter will have a higher one.  Since men, on average,  are taller than women, this means that many women will actually have a higher BMI than according to the new calculation methods.  Rather than dividing weight in kilograms by height in metres squared, weight is now multiplied by 1.3 and divided by height to the power of 2.5.  So yes, there are a lot more decimals to deal with.  Luckily, there is a website that will calculate this for you.


Of course BMI is not perfect.  I’m personally not a fan of it (and this is probably the only thing that body image websites and I will ever likely agree on) because they never take into consideration people who are very athletic or have light bones.  Besides, you could be in the “normal” range in terms of weight and still be “fat” due to the percentage of body fat (something that many people don’t seem to realize).  And this doesn’t change your weight, of course – your numbers are still going to be the same – you probably don’t want to schedule just because you now fall into the “normal” range rather than “overweight.”

What are your thoughts on this? Do you know your BMI range?  Do you believe in it?  Why do you think people still use BMI to calculate health when it isn’t accurate?


Image courtesy of  WendellandCarolyn/iStockphoto

About Cynthia Cheng Mintz

Cynthia Cheng Mintz is the founder and webitor-in-chief of this site and the petite-focused site, Shorty Stories. She has also written for other publications including the Toronto Star and has blogged for The Huffington Post. Her first novel, Aspirations, was published in 2007. Outside of writing, Cynthia researches and advises philanthropic ideas for family funds and foundations and also volunteers.

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