Back in the stone age of medicine - which is, in my opinion, anytime prior to the work of Snow and Pasteur - a formula was created to capture in a number one's healthy weight - the body mass index or BMI.
Most of you are familiar with the BMI.
Some of you can probably quote your BMI without doing the calculation.
And what BMI value you are working toward.
The BMI formula is a simple one as formulas go:
BMI = weight in kilograms divided by the square of your height in meters.
So for me, that ends up being...
116.8 / (177.8 x 177.8)
And if I had my Wii do the measurements, it would then say in a chipper little voice...
Thank you, Wii.
I wasn't aware I was obese.
You've been most helpful.
But now there's this proposed NEW BMI formula - you can read about it here: www.nydailynews.com/life
And the formula is a bit more complicated...
1.3 x your weight divided by your height raised to the 2.5 power
Which means my BMI after all the mathematical gymnastics ends up being....
And again, my Wii Fit tells me that I'm obese with that value too.
There's a calculator link in that article where you can see the results of the "old" and "new" BMI formulas. That link is: people.maths.ox.ac.uk/tr
So what does this mean, really?
To me - not much.
I'm thrilled when we improve mathematical formulas.
But the BMI - be it the old formula that everyone uses or this new fancy pants one - is a formula.
A mathematical representation.
No less and no more.
In the same way that my weight is only an indicator - and an IMPERFECT indicator - of my health, so is my BMI value.
And so is YOURS.
So what's the takeaway from all this BMI discussion in the news?
Well, if the new formula by this Oxford mathematician is used, taller people will see some change as will shorter people.
But does that TRULY affect anyone's health?
Not in my opinion.
Nope, not at all.
Because I KNOW already that I'm obese.
And minor fiddling with some formula doesn't change that.
If you are within, say, 5 or 10 kilograms of your "ideal" or "healthy" or "normal" weight, then some BMI formula change might alter some numbers but it doesn't change where you are.
It doesn't change anything about YOU.
Only some number that attempts to QUANTIFY your health.
And formulas are limited in their capacity to do that.
There are many other numbers that are useful.
And any good physician is going to employ those numbers as part of the process of assessing your overall health.
Things like your resting heart rate.
And your blood pressure.
And the results of a blood panel.
Yes, your weight is a useful measurement.
And so is your BMI - which is, of course, based on your weight.
But it doesn't tell the WHOLE story.
And mathematical formula changes won't make you healthy or unhealthy.
ACTIONS YOU TAKE will do that.
So TODAY is a great day to take positive, healthy steps to improve your overall health.
Don't you think so?
Eat in moderation.
Eat a diet that is varied and full of the nutrients your body needs.
Hit your daily net calorie target value.
And do a little exercise.
Eschew stupid things like fruit juice fasting and diet pills.
And focus on your long term health.
And be forgiving of yourself when you slip up.
But be mindful about what you put in your mouth each day and the decisions you make.
You can do this.
You are strong.
Strong enough to succeed in reaching your thoughtfully determined goals.
Strong enough to overcome setbacks and doubt.
You are much much stronger than you might think.
Make it a great day!