BMI (Body Mass Index) System- an inaccurate system with racist origins

A quick history lesson

1830: The BMI system is developed by an astronomer named Adolphe Quetelet with the purpose of identifying the characteristics of “the average man”. He was testing whether the laws of probability could be applied to human beings at the population level.

❓❓ Yes- it was created for statistical/sociological use by an astronomer as a way of measuring populations; not for medical use by an actual doctor as a way of measuring individuals. BMI was never intended to be used to measure a person’s health. Not only that, the equation was developed using a population of white, Europeans. In other words, it does not account for differences in the average body size of other ethnic groups.

Early 1900s: Health insurance companies start using the “Quetelet index” (later changed to the BMI/body mass index) as a way to categorize people as ‘normal weight’, ‘underweight’, or ‘overweight’. Doctors are influenced by the health-insurance industry and a ‘normal weight’ was, of course, seen as ideal.

Modern day: BIPOC and diverse bodies of all ethnicities are expected to adhere to a white standard created in the early 19th century- a peak time for racist science.

Sadly, BMI is not evidence based yet it continues to be used in the medical community, and in doing so continues to pathologize certain bodies.