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Digital Subscriptions > Men's Fitness > December 2019 > WEIGH IT UP


The centuries-old Body Mass Index – more commonly known as BMI – is used around the world to tell people if they should worry about their weight, but combining a series of statistics might be a healthier way to go
Photography Byron Martin / James Leighton Burns / Daniel Repeti / jphnnie4k / Getty Images

Tracking your fitness progress is a pretty straightforward business if you record the weights you lift or take advantage of specially designed watches or apps. But the type of data you can get isn’t quite as good at showing how healthy you are. Visceral fat, the type that is around your organs, for example, isn’t easily detected, and cholesterol can be high regardless of how often you exercise.

In fact, tracking all the significant stats that indicate how healthy you are can be quite a job if you are meticulous about it, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that a onesize-fits-all formula has gained widespread traction. T at everything-to-everyone set of numbers is the Body Mass Index (BMI), and it has been used for all sorts: from informing government policies, to academic research and insurance qualifying standards. It’s also been around as a height-and-weight-based mathematical formula since Adolphe Quetelet created it in 1832, but it has a long and growing list of critics.

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