Adolphe Quetete and BMI?

Today is World Obesity Day (4th March 2021)

Body Mass Index (BMI) is a calculation of body fat on the basis of height and weight applying to adult men and women. Your Body Mass Index score indicates whether you are underweight or overweight.

Based on the score that you get, you may be advised to bulk up or lose weight. It is done to ensure that you maintain a bodyweight that may be healthy, and you may be advised to change your lifestyle to attain a healthier BMI.

The BMI scale was developed in 1832 by a Belgian mathematician named Lambert Adolphe Jacques Quetelet.

He developed the BMI scale to quickly estimate the degree of overweight and obesity in a given population to help governments decide where to allocate health and financial resources.

Interestingly, Quetelet stated that BMI was not useful in studying single individuals but rather to give a snapshot of a population’s overall health. Nevertheless, it’s widely used to measure an individual’s health.

Quetelet was not a physician, nor was he studying obesity or health — he was looking for a way to analyse populations. Quetelet’s Index also didn’t differentiate between fat and muscle, only taking into account total body mass.

Why Do People Use BMI As the Standard for Obesity? As far as we can tell, this is mainly used for the sake of convenience. It’s a lot easier to punch a couple of numbers into a calculator than it is to accurately measure the amount of fat in a person’s body.

Though this can give the healthcare provider a snapshot of a person’s health based on a person’s weight, it doesn’t consider other factors, such as age, sex, race, genetics, fat mass, muscle mass, and bone density.

Next time you are visiting a healthcare professional, ask them if they know the history of the BMI scale; you will be surprised how many use this method without knowing the background.

Thanks for reading and stay safe.

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