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Arnold Schwarzenegger Is Obese - Problems with Body Mass Index (BMI) Calculations

Arnold Schwarzenegger Is Obese - Problems with Body Mass Index (BMI) Calculations


The body mass index, or BMI, chart is one of the most commonly used tools to determine if an adult is the ideal weight, underweight, overweight, obese, or even morbidly obese. However, if you use a BMI calculator to find out whether Arnold Schwarzenegger is at a healthy weight, you might be surprised to learn that the BMI chart considers the former Mr. Universe as obese - not only now, but when he was in the prime of his body-building career. At just over six feet tall and about 235 pounds, the younger Schwarzenegger's BMI was over 31 (with 18.5 to 24.9 being considered the "normal weight" range).

But Schwarzenegger is not alone. Although he was selected more than once by People Magazine as one of the "50 Most Beautiful People in the world," Tom Cruise, with a height of 5'7" and weight of 201 lbs, has a body mass index of 31.5, classifying him as obese. Other leading men who are considered obese when only their BMI is considered include Mel Gibson and Sylvester Stallone.

How Body Mass Index Is Calculated

To calculate your body mass index, divide your weight in pounds, by the square of your height in inches, and then multiple it by 703. For example, Will Smith is 6'2" (74 inches) and weighs 210 pounds. Below is the calculation for his BMI:

210 ÷ 742 (74 X 74 = 5476) X 703 = 27

According to body mass index tables, Will Smith, with his BMI of 27, would be considered overweight.

Potential Problems Using BMI Alone

As demonstrated by the examples above, body mass index is not always an accurate measure of a healthy weight. Because muscle mass weighs more than fat, athletes and other fit individuals may find that their body mass indexes incorrectly classify them as overweight or obese.

Tackling BMI Inconsistencies

To improve the accuracy of the weight analysis provided by your BMI, you should also measure your waist circumference. Because abdominal fat is a risk factor for heart disease and other weight-related ailments, the size of your waist is an important factor. Men should have a waist size of 40 inches or less and women should have a waist size of 35 inches or less.

Why Use a Flawed System?

You may wonder why a seemingly flawed measure is commonly used as a scale for ideal weight. In the majority of cases, body mass index is still a good system for determining optimal weight.

The alternatives to BMI for determining body fat, including hydrostatic weighing (weighing a person in a tank of water), can be costly and time-consuming. Because body mass index is accurate the majority of the time, it will most likely continue to be one of the most commonly used measures of ideal weight.

Remember, when determining your risk for obesity-related illness, discuss your weight, your waist circumference, and any other possible risk factors you may have with your doctor. Although Arnold Schwarzenegger was not obese with a BMI of 31, that same number could be a warning sign for you.

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