child development

Do These Little Boys Look Obese To You? Their BMIs Say They Are

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Jolene, the blogger behind Yummy Inspirations was pretty pissed off when she took her three-and-a-half year old son to the doctor and was told her healthy child was obese based on his BMI.

Jolene writes:

“I’ve always had a problem with the BMI Charts – I’m 5 foot 4 and my Husband is 5 foot 3 – we both have broad shoulders and are genuinely big boned – and since bone is dense and contributes to your weight we have ALWAYS been in the overweight/obese category. In fact if either of us were in the healthy weight category we would likely be gaunt and worryingly sick.”

She says that she was told both of her sons were overweight at their three year appointments, something she says is based strictly on the formula and doesn’t take into consideration their family history, their diet, and other variables:

“Both their weight is average or a tiny bit above average for their age BUT because of their shorter stature they are both considered to be OBESE on those ridiculous BMI Charts.”

Man, if I were Jolene I would be pissed off, too. I imagine her sons’ doctor was just trying to do his or her job, but Jolene says she she was “lectured about watching my kids weight – and told to limit their sugar, milk and increase the exercise they do.” Eeesh.

Of course, it’s not enough to say “Look at these kids! Do they look fat? NO?! Then they’re not fat!” (Like how I trolled you in the post title, though? MUHAHAHA). There’s more to body composition than just the way we appear or what we eat, even though Jolene says her sons are fed tons of fresh fruit and vegetables and meals made from scratch.

What this is really about is the BMI formula and how it sucks. I’ve written about this for Blisstree concerning a similar situation, except with a school; Some research has shown that that BMI is a flawed method for determining who is overweight or underweight. While it can still be a valuable tool in some contexts, I feel like pediatricians should maybe be a bit more sensitive and judicious when informing parents that their children are obese. I’m not saying toss BMI out altogether, but maybe speak to a parent about a child’s lifestyle and diet, and genetic history before lecturing them.

Photo: Yummy Inspirations