An eighth grader did not mind getting a failing mark as she tried to educate her teacher why the Body Mass Index (BMI) could be an unreliable way of assessing one’s health condition.
In her response to a physical education teacher’s take-home assignment, a copy of which was obtained by Today, Tessa Embry explained why she cannot provide her answers for the question “What is BMI?” and for the problem “Calculate your BMI.”
“Now, I’m not going to even open my laptop to calculate my BMI. And I’ll tell you why. Ever since I can remember, I’ve been a ‘bigger girl’ and I’m completely fine with that,” wrote the 14-year-old Indiana student. “I’m strong and powerful. When you put a softball or a bat in my hand, they are considered lethal weapons.”
Embry, a softball player of two teams, who goes to a practice almost every night, pointed out that BMI is “an outdated way of defining normal weight,” and that it is not successful in identifying which part of the person’s weight is fat and which is muscle.
As relayed by her mother, Mindi Embry, her daughter felt “distraught” when she was categorized as obese at her PE class because of her BMI result.
“The doctor told her, ‘You have a good diet, you’re very active, you’re very strong. You’re good to go. I give you a clean bill of health,’” her mother recalled. “And that empowered her.”
Meanwhile, Keith-Thomas Ayoob, a nutrition specialist and an associate clinical professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, told ABC News that he himself is “not a huge fan of measuring BMIs in school.”
“Too much opportunity for stigma and inappropriate conversations and there are better things schools can be doing to promote healthy weights,” Ayoob said about BMI.
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