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  • Writer's pictureFranck Banza

Weight, Ethnicity, Genetics, BMI... Are you really overweight??

Updated: Aug 18, 2022

For the last 5 years my BMI has indicated that I was overweight despite the fact that all my blood test results were good and I am feeling good and healthy. So, I have been asking myself this question:" is the BMI a universal and accurate parameter that can determine if someone is healthy and/or overweight?". The answer is NO!! for the simple reason that this archaic tool does not consider that different people, gender, ethnicity, genes, age etc.. have different body types, and consequently different normal weights, and heights.

Let's start by explaining where the BMI came from. It was invented around 1830 by the Belgian Statistician, Sociologist, Astronomer and Mathematician Lambert Adolphe Jacque Quetelet ( who wasn't even a doctor!!!!) and his goal was to study average human physical characteristics because he was looking to understand if there was a link between weight, height and death. His study was meant to look at a pattern of deaths among a large population, but not to assess people's health.

In addition to the above, the BMI is based on information collected from white men in the early 1800s, which makes it irrelevant for white women, and people from other ethnicities. Today, it also makes it irrelevant for white men because as human beings who are constantly going through evolution, we are naturally getting taller, and fatter than ever before. Therefore the "ideal" body type of a white man from the 1800s is not the same as the "ideal" body type of the white man of today, definitely not the "ideal" body type of women of today or of people from different ethnicity.

In fact, the ideal body does not exist and we are all beautiful and different. The most important thing is to be healthy. Accepting your body type is very difficult but it is the most awarding thing that you will ever do as it will bring you invaluable health benefits. Many people have been telling me about their experiences of trying to loose weight and how unsuccessful they were with it as they have tried everything and it didn't work. My response to them is always the same: "Weight loss shouldn't be your main priority or target, but instead your main priority is your mental and physical health, which start by learning to accept your body type and love your physical appearance". You should never compare yourself to anyone because we all have different body type and you can only achieve what is normal to yourself. Accepting and loving your body will boost your health and will help you get your natural body shape. When you accept and love your body type, you are more likely to take part in more physical activities, sleeping well, and eating well resulting in more health benefits, including loosing weight.

According to a recent study from the Harvard School of Public Health, people from different ethnicities with the same BMI do not have the same risk level of developing cardiovascular diseases mainly because of the difference in body fat levels. For instance, Black people have lower body fat and higher lean muscle mass than White and South Asians at the same BMI, and consequently, could be at lower risk of cardiovascular diseases.

To accept and love your body, you need to know it very well first. Start observing every single part of your body and how it reacts to different external factors such as foods, physical activities, stress, etc.. and try to find what is it that makes you different and unique. Then start a daily routine to boost your positivity. For instance, look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself how beautiful and amazing you are. This will make you feel healthy and happy. One of the advantages of traditional medicine is that, it doesn't really take into account weight, but instead provide an holistic treatment. That is why traditional medicine should complement modern medicine to achieve better results for patients. Especially when it comes to prevention, natural remedies are very effective.

So, forget about the BMI and your weight! Start by focusing on your wellness and wellbeing, and the things that will make you feel happy and consequently healthy. Love your body! you are beautiful, you are unique, you are amazing, you are natural!!

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