Saturday, 4 July 2009

The BMI Calculator

I've noticed that the Sun now has a body-mass index calculator (BMI) on its Health & Diet page.

If you're not aware, BMI is used as a guide to whether someone should be classed as overweight, by taking the ratio of their mass to the square of their height.

The problem is that the Sun simply advertises it as follows:
Overweight? See our BMI calculator
It implies that it an absolute measurement, but Wikipedia shows that it isn't what it's designed for:
BMI has become controversial because many people, including physicians, have come to rely on its apparent numerical authority for medical diagnosis, but that was never the BMI's purpose. It is meant to be used as a simple means of classifying sedentary (physically inactive) individuals with an average body composition.
The Sun doesn't bother to say that if, for example, you're a body builder then it would be a waste of time using it (because muscle has a greater mass than fat, which would warp the results), nor does it state that it is simply a guide for an average person. In any event, the Sun doesn't give any explanation as to what BMI does until you type in your details:
For Adults:

Underweight = <18.5
Normal weight = 18.5-24.9
Overweight = 25-29.9
Obesity = BMI of 30 or greater

For children, see BMI charts
For the record, my BMI is 21.6, which is in the middle of the "Average" range.

What is odd is the way the Sun goes about calculating BMI: they ask for your height in feet and inches - no metric option is available - and it asks for your weight in lbs. Does anyone actually weigh themselves in lbs in the UK? I was expecting stones and possibly kg.

While I appreciate the Sun's attempts, it could have done a lot better with a minimal amount of effort.

No comments: