Sunday, August 13, 2006

Is This The Body Of An Obese Man?

BMI says I'm obese, but do you think I look obese?

Every time I start thinking about the issue of obesity in the United States, I can't help but ponder that maybe our definition of what constitutes an "obese" person is somewhat skewed. Especially when we are using body mass index (BMI) to determine who is overweight and obese compared to those considered in the "normal" range. Sure, there are lots of overweight and obese people walking around in the world today, but what about those people who are given the label, but don't look like they are "obese?"

My recent announcement to begin my "30-in-30" Low-Carb Weight Loss Challenge to lose 30 pounds in 30 weeks in an effort reach my goal of 210 pounds by February 2007 brought this subject to the surface recently as one of my readers known as Invisible Blogger wrote in response to this post about the challenge that I will always remain overweight or obese as long as I stick to livin' la vida low-carb without controlling my fat, calories or portions.

"Right now your BMI is 30, your goal BMI at 210 pounds is 26.2," he wrote in the comments section to my post. "Jimmy, please take this in the spirit of brotherly love and concern, the cold hard fact of the matter is [while he didn't actually say this, the clear insinuation is "you are currently obese" and] even your goal of 26.2 is still overweight. For a guy your height, your goal weight really ought to be under 200 pounds."

I responded to Invisible Blogger in this blog post which garnered a wonderful discussion among many of my readers about this whole issue of BMI and obesity. Now, let me take that discussion just a little further with this new blog post.

When I started on my "30-In-30" challenge at the beginning of August, my weight was 240 pounds, which is right on the bottom end of being obese. YOU HEARD ME RIGHT! Even after losing 180 pounds in 2004 and greatly improving my weight and health, the 30.1 BMI number at my 240-pound weight makes me a part of that one-third of Americans who are considered obese. YIKES!

According to the BMI calculator I used, this puts me in the 79th percentile for my age and height group which means nearly 8 out of ten men in their 30's who are 6'3" tall weigh LESS than me. Really? Jimmy Moore is "obese?" LOL! Oh, that's a good one. ROTFL! Hee hee! Sigh...what's sad is there are people who actually BELIEVE BMI is the BEST way to determine if someone is obese or not.

Take a good look at that picture at the top of this blog post I had my wife take of me today right before I went to the gym to workout. Is this the body of an obese man to you?

If I'm obese TODAY, I wonder what they would describe me as in 2004 when I tipped the scales at 410 pounds with a BMI of 51.2 in the 99th percentile?!?!?!?! M-m-m-m-morbidly obese?!?! This is why the BMI as the measurement of determining whether someone has a weight problem is ridiculous and irresponsible. That is why the move is on to change from BMI to the waist-to-hip ratio instead since it is a better measurement of obesity than BMI.

Not only have I transformed myself radically from that lazy fat slob I used to be into an energetic athletic man who is now in shape, my body fat was measured last October after livin' la vida low-carb for nearly two years at 11 percent. This can be directly attributed to my daily workouts at the YMCA and building up muscle mass in my body where fat used to be. I expect to have my body fat measured again sometime in the next couple of months and don't anticipate any major differences from last year.

This brings me back to the whole question of describing me and my current physical condition as "obese." Nobody will argue with you that when I was a 400-pounder that I was most definitely obese.

Here's a picture of me from back THEN:

I was a very big boy indeed. But now? Can that distinction of "obese" or even "overweight" apply to me now?

Friend and fellow low-carb blogger Regina Wilshire, who I was able to meet in January during the Nutritional & Metabolic Aspects of Carbohydrate Restriction conference in Brooklyn, New York, said she has seen me and can vouch about what I look like now.

"Anyone who meets you in person, the very last thing that could ever enter their mind is 'damn, he's obese''re not," Regina wrote to me after reading my blog post about this subject.

Interestingly, she added that my weight loss goal for the "30-In-30" challenge may be more difficult for me to attain this time around than it was in 2004 because my bone density "increased significantly" when I was over 400 pounds as well as my lean body muscle mass.

"I've yet to meet anyone who has been that heavy and then able to reach 'ideal' BMI weight due to the increased pounds in their bones and muscles -- two major important factors why many who used to be very heavy can't get back to previous low weights," Regina contended.

Also, she said that my excess, loose skin is another 10-15 pounds "easily" which could account for why the weight loss this time around may not come pouring off. I'm okay with that and certainly appreciate what she said.

She concluded that the bottom line is, "You're not obese and your body will fight to not lose too much!"

Okay, so my increased bone density and muscle mass along with the hanging, loose excess skin (or what some people have told me is actually excess fat) all add up to extra pounds that would not otherwise be there for most people my height and age, right? So, perhaps my BMI is elevated because of all these things and therefore the whole issue of being "obese" is probably just a moot point.

It still makes you wonder how many other people out there are placed in the category of "obese" and have no business being there either. Are there a whole bunch of people like me who should not be classified as "obese?"

This is me and I'm proud of what I look like weight-wise in August 2006. You can even see a little bit of my loose skin hanging from beneath my shirt in that photo above--another reminder of just how far I have come. When I lose my 30 pounds in 30 weeks (and I'll bust my tail to do it as part of my "30-In-30" Low-Carb Weight Loss Challenge!), I will then reevaluate whether I need to lose any more weight or just be content with being 210...and STILL overweight according to BMI.

But, I will be a mere 10 pounds away from the "normal" range for my BMI and I'll probably be okay with that considering my skin weight if it can even be removed with put me below that magic weight of 200 where I will then allegedly be at my "normal" weight (whatever the heck that is!).

I'm curious, though, let's take an informal poll today at my blog to see how many people think I LOOK obese from the photograph I posted today. Be honest and feel free to explain why or why not in your response.

If we are ever going to try to help people deal with their weight problems, then we have to make the definitions of the terms we use more concrete and practical so that people will know what we are talking about.

Is this the body of an obese man you see at the top of this post?

8-16-06 UPDATE: I came across an op-ed piece in Rocky Mountain News today from University of Colorado law professor Paul Campos about this exact same subject. Campos writes a weekly column at the newspaper and even has a book about this topic entitled "The Obesity Myth: Why America's Obsession with Weight is Hazardous to Your Health." Might be worth checking out!


Blogger Lowcarb_dave said...

Jimmy - you look great!

You do not look obese!
I wouldn't even say you looked overweight!

Check out this website for something interesting on BMI:-

Apparently George W Bush is officially overweight.

Mel Gibson is technically obese!

BMI is crap!

8/13/2006 8:49 PM  
Blogger April said...

Jimmy, you look great. Keep up the good work! BMI is crap. My boyfriend was underweight before he started CR... now I think he's technically dead, he's so thin, and he's in incredible health and gorgeous. I'm low normal and no one would call me skinny. Individuals are just too, well, individual for these one-size-fits-all measurements to work.


8/13/2006 9:19 PM  
Blogger diamondwife said...

8/13/2006 9:41 PM  
Blogger Science4u1959 said...

You most certainly are not obese, Jimmy!

8/13/2006 10:47 PM  
Blogger detox said...

you look healthy and anything but obese

8/14/2006 5:49 AM  
Blogger Invisible Blogger said...

ok, jimmmy, i am officially pissed off... if you're gonna quote me all over the place from my commments on YOUR blog, would you please not MISQUOTE me? here is what I wrote:
"But Jimmy, please take this in the spirit of brotherly love and conern, the cold hard fact of the matter is: 26.2 is still overweight. For a guy your height, your goal really ought to be under 200 pounds."
I cut and pasted this from YOUR blog. I dont see the word OBESE in there, do you? Are you obese? no. Are you overweight? Probably. Hard to tell. Take your shirt off and take some side pics.

I'm on vacation Brazil and wont be near the computer any time soon, but when I am, I hope I find a new post apolgizing for blatantly misquoting me.

I stand behind my original point, which is that the notion that you can eat all you want without watching portion sizes simply does not work for a lot of people, apparently yourself and Dr. Atkins included.

8/14/2006 8:20 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

Ooooo, IB, don't get your panties in a wad, my friend.

The very clear insinuation from your previous comments was that I need to lose about 40-50 other words, you think I'm OBESE.

Don't try to dance out of this one like you didn't say that I "ought to be under 200 pounds."

You said what you said and I make no apologies for simply reprinting your foolish comments. :D

8/14/2006 8:33 AM  
Blogger Kevin Dill said...

you have certainley come along way, and have every right to be proud of the success you've made. I agree with you that the BMI has problems, and it is not really relevent to people who carry more lean mass. BMI should not be the sole determinant of obeseity, but, It is however a starting point to figure out who may or may not be in danger from being over weight or obese. BTW, I don't think you are in danger at this point.


8/14/2006 9:16 AM  
Blogger Invisible Blogger said...

lets get this clear. I NEVER SAID OBESE. ok, got it? are we clear?

thank you.

gotta go....

8/14/2006 9:56 AM  
Blogger Rob said...

I don't see why you can't get under 200lbs if you restrict your carbs. How many times have we heard of people going back into "induction" because they're stalled or gaining? Isn't this why the Kimmers thing is popular? Cut back on the low-carb products, fruits and veggies, increase you're fat intake and let your body truly become a fat burning machine.

By throwing the LC products and fruits/veggies in your diet is hindering the fat burning process. You may be in ketosis but that you're spilling ketones shows that your body isn't fully adapted to burning fat because it's still using the glucose in your diet as a fuel and forgoing the energy in your fat stores, and that stalls the weight loss. It has nothing to do with bone density or loose skin. You might get to 210 doing it your way, but I predict it will be tough on 50g net carbs per day.

8/14/2006 10:35 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

Awww, poor IB got his feelings hurt because he was called on what he said. Boo-freakin'-hoo!

The bottom line is this: I'm losing weight again, I'm going to get to 210, and I will NOT be overweight or obese when I do. Some even say I'm neither of those NOW!

I do appreciate your comments, though, IB. THANKS for the engaging discussion.

Rob, I am currently eating about 40g of carbs per day, the same amount I was eating when I was in Ongoing Weight Loss on the Atkins diet two years ago. We'll see how it works this time. :D

8/14/2006 10:44 AM  
Blogger BillyHW said...

I also have a low opinion of the BMI.

I checked and my goal weight is a BMI of 26.6.

I think that'll be just about right for me, but I will re-evaluate that when I get there.

I also don't think you look obese in those photos. I wouldn't even call it overweight. Not skinny or thin, but not overweight.

8/14/2006 4:17 PM  
Blogger Rob said...

It's hard to purely tell from the photos, but I would say you're slightly overweight. Sure, you're obese by definition but where you're at is way better then where you were.

Although as my wife would say, Jimmy, you need to wear your pants higher. Your pants should go around your waist, not under your stomach roll ;p

When my wife started having me wear my pants on my waist I did look better than wearing them under my roll. Yeah, it gave me a bigger waist line and I had to buy bigger pants but it's the proper way to wear them.

/end Stacy London & Clinton Kelly Mode

8/14/2006 4:36 PM  
Blogger TESS said...

BMI is not all it is cracked up to be. Arnold S. and President Bush are overweight according to BMI. One has unbelievable muscles the other runs 120 miles a week. i have decided to ignore BMI and go with how I look and feel. I think you should do this as well Jimmy!

8/15/2006 7:12 AM  
Blogger TeaJay said...

I thought the whole point of BMI was not what you looked like on the outside, but what fat content was calculated at the time. I have heard some really skinny people having high BMIs.

BMI should be used as a tool and an indicator and not necessarily the major deciding factor. Alas, most doctors today rely on the numbers instead of looking at the whole picture. I've gotten the whole song and dance before too that I am considered obese because my height and weight do not follow the handy-dandy little chart they like to use. Seems to make no nevermind that I used to weigh 100 lbs. more than I do now - no pats on the back for that ordeal - just an insistence that I lose more.

Makes one want to go out and eat Twinkies.


8/15/2006 10:42 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

I know how you feel, Teajay! But lay off the Twinkies. :D RAT POISON, RAT POISON!

8/15/2006 10:54 AM  
Blogger Kim said...

I have serious questions about BMI too. My husband lost about 40 lbs, which put him at about 200 lbs. His BMI calculations said he should lose another 15 lbs or so. The problem is, everybody thought he looked old and sick! He's a physician, and he even had a patient call him because she was afraid he was seriously ill! He has regained about 10 lbs and looks much healthier. (He also works out regularly).

8/15/2006 1:16 PM  
Blogger Invisible Blogger said...

jimmy jimmy jimmy.. the only reason my panties are in a bunch is because you claim I said and even directly quoted me saying something I NEVER F***ING SAID.. ok? having too much fun surfing in Brazil to get too upset tho but it is annoying.
ok, got that out of the way, now...I stand by my original point...which is that low carb diets seem to leave some folks slightly overweight. in which case, its time to watch the portions.

8/15/2006 2:13 PM  
Blogger Invisible Blogger said...

btw, i agree that the bmi is nearly useless. 11 per cent body fat is damn good... if you reach that point without counting calories,well, IB´s hat is off to ya! i wish i could...

(uh oh, here comes Rob to tell me that if i would only cut out all carbs...)

8/15/2006 2:19 PM  
Blogger Darleen said...

It's not how you look, it's how you feel. Are you still overweight at 236 - well....uh....yes. BUT it doesn't matter if you are healthy and happy. In comparison to what you were you are skinny! LOL
I think we are getting used to seeing really fat people around us all the time and normal people actually look skinny now. For women, sizing has gone up in the US to accomodate the larger size women. What used to be a 10 is now a 6.
Don't go by a chart except to get a reality check. You look great to me but it's you that has to be happy with your goal weight. AND you have to be willing to keep it there without yo-yoing up and down. For some of us, just getting to the "overweight" designation is cause to celebrate as long as we can keep it there.

8/15/2006 6:03 PM  
Blogger Invisible Blogger said...

oh, i see u edited your blog where you misquoted me... thanks! at least ur not flagrantly misquoting me, merely misinterpreting me!lemmee just say that i never even meant to insinuate that you were obese. Merely slightly overweight. just like a lot of Atkins dieters, including Dr. A himself for a good part of his life. And now after finally reading what you said about bone density, musculature, etc. i can see that i could very well have been wrong to state that you should try to get your weight under 200.. (I was using the admitedly bogus BMI)

anyway, you~´ve done a great job getting to where you are from over 400 pounds, that is fantastic.

after my vacation, i just might try the 30 i 30 challenge myself... although i dont know if i really need to lose that much weight...

8/15/2006 8:58 PM  
Blogger Invisible Blogger said...

for the record, here is what i actually wrote. i´ll leave it to anyone who cares to read it to decide for themselves whether or not i was calling you obese.
for one thing, i would find it extremely rude to tell someone who´s lost as much weight as you have obese.


¨Jimmy, good luck on the challenge. I am afraid, however, you are about to prove that fiddling around with carb counts doesn't do much good, beyond a certain point. I found that I can get myself to a BMI of about 26+ simply by watching carbs, but to go beyond that requires watching calories. There's no if, ands, or buts about it. Right now your BMI is 30, your goal BMI at 210 pounds is 26.2. so if my hunch is right, you might get there by restricting carbs alone. But Jimmy, please take this in the spirit of brotherly love and conern, the cold hard fact of the matter is: 26.2 is still overweight. For a guy your height, your goal really ought to be under 200 pounds. And the only way you'll get THERE for sure is to watch those calories. Not a lot mind you. Just eat a 10 oz steak instead of 14. Use less oil and butter. Smaller portions of everything .¨

8/15/2006 9:05 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

THANKS, IB! I encourage you to lose as much as you need on the "30-In-30" challenge. Some need to lose more, some less. The point is being aware that a few more pounds off of your body may be a GOOD thing. That's why I'm doing it whether I reach my 30-pound weight loss goal or not. ENJOY the rest of your vacation!

8/15/2006 9:27 PM  
Blogger Invisible Blogger said...

thanks jimmy... wont be able to start until after labor day.. too many planned interrupptions occuring between now and then.. my vacation and my birthday, hhaaa... it´ll be interesting to see if i can actually get down to around 170 pounds. havent been there since my skinniest college days. i am super motivated, since i look terrible in the skin tight surfing shirts i need to wear, ha haaa...

8/16/2006 11:10 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

I'm always ready, willing, and able to encourage you in any way that I can, IB. Take care, my friend.

8/16/2006 11:41 AM  
Blogger Newbirth said...

I worry more about getting my body fat percentage down. I'm currently at 24%.

My BMI is in the normal range, but I'm more worried about body fat.

8/16/2006 7:55 PM  
Blogger Thomas said...

What you need is the Tanita BC 552, which measures body fat, as well as water and muscle mass. It also calculates basal metabolic rate. This scale costs $99.99 at Sports Authority in Sunnyvale, CA. There are other scales with similar capabilities. Tanita is the best known, but Taylor and Health-O-Meter have similar models.

8/28/2006 9:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that Invisible Blogger needs to get over himself

8/06/2008 10:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


simply disgusting

9/14/2008 2:58 PM  
Blogger =^..^= Kitty =^..^= said...

Everybody's an expert. It's easy enough to read a chart and believe it. Like that bogus insurance weight/height chart we used to follow.

The problem with the loose "skin" is that although our fat cells shrink when we lose weight, the CELLS do not go away, so the membranes and a bit of fat remain. It ain't rocket science, but those "empty" fat cells fill up if we regain the weight.

5/28/2010 11:17 AM  
Anonymous Ailie said...

Thank you for this blog, my partner is in a similar situation and I'm forever defending him. His BMI lists him as obese and whilst he has a bit of a belly, the rest of his body is reasonably trim. He has a lot of muscle mass which will always make his BMI high, yet everyone just thinks he's obese and needs to lose half his weight. If he did that, he'd been anorexic! He weighs 104kg and his so called doctor at the navy base claims he needs to lose 40kg, meaning he'd weigh less than I do!

So thank you for posting this, I now have something to show people to prove to them that trusting BMI is not a good thing.

1/04/2011 10:12 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home