This phrase Body Mass Index or BMI, it seems to me, has become the latest catch phrase of the Weight Loss Industry.
But what does it actually mean? How do I explain body mass index in simple terms?
Let me tell you a story.
Many years ago I was involved in a small war in Central Africa. In 1980 I suddenly took ill; just as the war was over and the "other side" won. I actually got a medal from the winners, the first time, as far as I know that the winning side gave the losing side a medal! But that is another story.
Within a few weeks I had lost some 28 kilograms (roughly 62 pounds or just over 4 stone). As I only weighed about 76kgs (162lbs/12st) this was an amazing amount to lose. I had always been pretty fit and was active, playing squash, golf and hiking (plus military patrols) but now I was completely debilitated.
It took quite awhile for the doctors to find out what was wrong but eventually they did and I was "cured." Unfortunately, I was advised to put on weight as quickly as possible but not given the correct information as to how to do this and from then on for many years to come I fought against tiredness and lack of strength.
Eventually, some ten years ago, I was introduced to the term Body Mass Index or BMI by a doctor who had diagnosed me as suffering from ME (Myalgic encephalomyelitis or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome). He advised me that my body, that looked nice and slim was in fact obese. At that time I once again weighed about 76kgs as before and everyone I knew said that this was ridiculous. I didn't exactly ignore him but I did put the idea on the back-burner, so to speak.
Over the next few years I slowly put on more and more weight until about five years ago I stabilized at 98kgs (216lbs/15st6lbs). Four years ago I had to stop working as my left leg and foot and my overall energy level prohibited me from lasting a full day. Doctors told me that I should "learn to live with it - it is your age." As I am only 68 now this wasn't satisfactory and last year I consulted a professional Bio-Mechanical Engineer.
Once again this is another story but what he did tell me after two and a half hours of examination was that my Body Mass Index was 45.9% "Let me explain body mass index this way," he told me.
"You weigh 98kgs. The fat content of your body, which I measured electronically, is nearly 45kgs. So the rest of your body, the bones, the muscles etc. only weighs around 53kgs. You have very little muscle and this is what has caused your leg and feet to more or less collapse. We have to build up your strength by building up your muscle."
That was in November. Since then I have changed my diet. I am NOT dieting just "eating healthy".
I am exercising for muscles burn calories and also converts fat into more muscle. I feel better, I sleep better and I am enjoying life more than I have for years. And I am working on my books and articles some eight or nine hours a day, walk a couple of miles to town and am generally more active.
If you want to learn more about how I managed to get on top of this weight problem, accepting that Body Mass Index is important, then go here.