Did You Just Call Me Fat?

Dear Health Conscious Reader,

I am overweight – almost obese. So is Michael Jordan.

At least that’s what conventional medicine tells you. But there’s more to the story.

Most doctors use your body mass index (BMI) to determine if you’re underweight, normal, overweight or obese. The BMI is a chart that measures your height, weight, and age and shows you a standardized percentage of body fat.

But the BMI is measuring the wrong thing. It measures muscle and fat. This can mislead you and make you think you’re obese.

A reliable way to find out if you’re at a natural weight is to measure body composition. This test compares the amount of fat to muscle, water, and bones for accurate results.

I may be overweight on the BMI scale, but my real body fat percentage is 15 percent – well within the fit range for body composition. (See chart below.) And Michael Jordan’s is only 4 percent. So much for being obese.

The BMI also makes underweight mistakes. I have patients who insist they’re normal and fit because the BMI tells them so. And their conventional doctors agree. Then I ask them if they know their body composition. The answer is almost always no.

When I measure, I find many of my patients are not as “healthy” as they thought.

When I see patients in my clinic, my assistants and I use good old-fashioned calipers to measure my patients’ body composition. I like this method because it’s accurate, easy, and fast. You can do this at home on your own. If you’d like, you can get the same calipers I use here.

There’s an even more dangerous flaw in the BMI: It can’t measure deadly visceral fat. This type of fat collects in your abdominal cavity and surrounds your organs, restricting them. Visceral fat also is a haven for toxins that cannot be cleaned by the liver, which then contributes to heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.1

A waist circumference test is a simple way to see if you’re at risk for having visceral fat. Just wrap a flexible measuring tape around the smallest part of your waist. Then find your number on the chart below. By knowing where you stand and taking action, you’re helping prevent deadly sickness and disease.

To Your Good Health,

Al Sears, MD

  1. Slentz, Cris A., Aiken, Lori B., Houmard, Joseph A., et al, “Inactivity, exercise, and visceral fat. STRRIDE: A randomized, controlled study of exercise intensity and amount;” J Appl Physiol., 99. July 7, 2005; 1613-1618.