Keep the BMI away from me and my child

I came across this article from about Michelle Obama encouraging BMI screenings for kids. Up until this, I have been right on board with the First Lady’s Let’s Move campaign. I’ve loved the little stints about healthy eating on the Disney Channel, and well, overall who can argue with eating healthier and staying more active? Do I think childhood obesity is a problem? Yes, I do. But I don’t think that BMI screening for children is the way to go.

Me at 20, apparently obese

First off, I’m not a fan of the BMI to begin with. BMI is strictly a measure of your height and weight. I spent years trying not to equate my worth with the numbers on a scale. I’ve always looked like I weighed less than I actually did. Why? My best guess is that I carry a lot of muscle. I know that the 110 to 145 lbs that my BMI says I should be, is pretty much ridiculous. I’d look anorexic. Take a look at the picture to your left. I weighed 180 lbs in that picture. According to my BMI, I was obese . . . not overweight, obese.

Then we get into the question of children. According to my daughter’s pediatrician, she’s overweight. My daughter is 6 years old. She’s about 45” tall and weighs about 55 lbs. All of that pretty much means jack squat to me. What means something to me is that she eats healthy. She is constantly choc’ full of energy, and she never stops moving. For lack of a better phrasing, she doesn’t “look” fat. She looks like a healthy 6-year-old child, which is exactly what she is. There are enough body image issues as it is, especially with young girls, without pushing this onto them as well.

I went through so many years being obsessed with my weight, and I have no doubt in my mind that strongly influenced the fact that I sit here today not just ‘medically obese’ but actually obese. There are a million and one other factors as well, but growing up in a weight obsessed culture certainly did not help me.

I will not allow my daughter to follow in my foot-steps. She will learn healthy eating without deprivation. She will learn to be active in her daily life. She will grow up healthy, just as she has been. I refuse to make issues out of things that aren’t there.

I am all about pushing healthy eating and exercising, but I don’t think you need to put any focus on the numbers on the scale.


7 responses to this post.

  1. Yes, this!

    I have a six-year-old daughter, too. She is 52 inches tall and weighs 70 pounds. In other words, she’s taller than all the other kindergardeners, all the first graders, all the second graders and some of the third graders. She also doesn’t “look” fat. She’s long and lanky and very athletic. She was very, very ill this winter (pneumonia that put her in the hospital for two week) and lost about 15 pound down from 75. At 60 pounds she looked fragile and delicate, instead of her regular sturdy self. She’s settled at 70–but people have actually said to me that it’s a shame she didn’t stay thinner. WTF? She’s six. SIX.

    Keep that BMI away from us, too.


    • That’s just messed up! I seriously don’t understand our culture’s obsession with thinness. It wasn’t always that way. Look at medieval and renaissance art. To sit here and push weight obsession on a child only to complain about anerexia and bulemia ten years later makes absolutely no sense to me!


  2. […] Doll Keep the BMI Away from Me and My Child I am not my […]


  3. Posted by Tammy W. on August 8, 2011 at 5:51 pm

    I couldn’t agree more! The target BMI for my hubby is ridiculous! The only way he would attain it is if he were emaciated. Maybe “they” would like to see him as a stage 4 cancer patient or a POW, but I’m not interested in that. I think those silly numbers help deter him from trying to lose weight because as long as he is healthy (& he is!) he will always be considered “obese.”

    Thankfully, our life insurance gives a reasonable limit for their best rates, & if he loses 20 pounds, we’ll save about $20 a month!


  4. Posted by Tammy W. on August 8, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    On the flip side, Caleb’s BMI is so low, that the term “failure to thrive” has even come up! He definitely is a “skinny butt,” but he can eat a whole pork chop or piece of pizza, some days, & he’s happy, energetic, smart, & very active. Sheesh! Skip the numbers: He is thriving!


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