The Inaccurate Scale

Molly Matthews

Keywords: BMI, History, Evidence, Logos, Misleading Correlation

Dear World Health Organization,

I’m a student writing to you to voice my concerns with the BMI scale. First, the general public must know that this scale has many flaws. The World Health Organization defines BMI as: “a simple index of weight-for-height that is commonly used to classify underweight, overweight and obesity in adults.” In today’s society, health is not always a measure or a number on the scale; it can be physical, emotional, and mental. As science has developed, we have learned that many things contribute to the overall picture of health. The BMI measurement is outdated and leads perfectly healthy people to question their body image. Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health stated that “BMI tends to overstate levels of fat in people who are muscular or athletic.” This means that some of the fittest people on the planet question their body image because of BMI. As the World Health organization, do you want to be validating a misleading scale? Overall, the scale is an inaccurate measure of weight, the scale discriminates groups of people, leads to overall confusion, and most importantly, is not a representation of health.

I’m going to address why the World Health Organization should stop validating this scale as a form of measurement. Logos is a rhetorical term derived from Greek philosophy used explicitly to appeal to logic. Logos also helps to prove that BMI is an inaccurate measure of what health means in today’s society. Scientific explanations show that there are much better ways to measure body weight, muscle, and health than the BMI scale. Nevertheless, it leads perfectly healthy people to think that they may be obese. As an organization, don’t you want to have the most accurate scale possible?

An Olympic track star could get their BMI measured and see that they are obese when they are all muscle. Here is how it works. Body Mass Index is clearly defined as a person’s weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in meters. There is a scale used to understand the measurements. 18.5 is underweight, 18.5 to 24.9 is average, 25 to 29.9 is overweight, and 30 or over is obese. The scale can’t differentiate between fat and muscle. BMI cannot measure the muscles of the track star, so it is a flawed measurement of this athlete’s overall health. This creates a measurement problem for anyone who has muscles because muscle is denser than fat. People with muscle may think there is something wrong with them if the BMI scale shows them as obese. However, it is a problem with the scale used to measure them and not the shape of the fit athlete. This scale gives athletes and the public a lack of reliability which causes body image issues. As a society, should we be using a scale that discriminates against some of the healthiest individuals? These issues could be prevented if the scale was accurate for all people.

BMI confuses people who know that they are healthy and are told that they are obese by this scale. It is not fair for the general public. First, this is an ancient measurement. The person who coined the term BMI was a Belgian man who has been praised for his creation, but the critical problem is that he was a mathematician and not a physician. He made BMI a quick way to measure obesity, and it wasn’t considered for any other factors. It is now a 200-year-old term. Don’t you think it is essential to have an up-to-date form of measurement? The scale is outdated, impacting how people understand the scale in today’s changing society.

Another way that the BMI scale is misleading is because it does not consider fat distribution. Fat distribution is a significant indication of health risks. This is because not all fat is the same. There are two types of fat in the body. The first type of fat is subcutaneous fat, which is not dangerous for your health. The other type of fat is visceral fat, which has substantial adverse effects on health. Unfortunately, the scale does not detect subcutaneous fat or visceral fat. This is a major problem because it can’t tell whether the fat on your body is normal or could lead to chronic illness. If a scale can’t indicate between healthy and dangerous types of fat, why are we still using it as a form of measurement? These factors lead people to confusion and questions about their body image when using this scale.

In conclusion, BMI should not be utilized because it has many limitations. Its limitations have caused many groups of people to have questions about their body image. The scale leaves people unsure about their bodies because all it can provide is a number. If a scale is causing perfectly healthy people to question themselves, then it should not be used. The most critical issue is that BMI is a statistical measurement still being advanced by The World Health Organization and other major organizations. This has become such a widespread issue because the public trusts these places. If this scale can stop being used, it would benefit people worldwide. Many people today may not even know the harms of the BMI system, which is problematic. The halt of this scale in society could even change how people perceive their body image. A scale that can’t be inclusive of everyone should not be used in a professional setting, the World Health Organization, or any individual. Thank you for taking the time to listen.


Molly Matthews

Works Cited

A, Weir and CB, Jan. “BMI Classification Percentile And Cut Off Points.” National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine,

Johansen, Thomas Kjeller. “Aristotle on the ‘Logos’ of the Craftsman.” Phronesis, vol. 62, no. 2, Brill, 2017, pp. 97–135,

Lemond, Angela, et al. “BMI Flaws, History, and Other Ways to Measure Body Weight and Fat: Everyday Health.”

Rapp, Christof, “Aristotle’s Rhetoric”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2010 Edition), Edward N. Zalta.

Wrobel, Szymon. “‘Logos, Ethos, Pathos’. Classical Rhetoric Revisited.” Polish Sociological Review, no. 191, Polskie Towarzystwo Socjologiczne (Polish Sociological Association), 2015, pp. 401–21,


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Feeling Rhetoric Copyright © 2022 by Molly Matthews is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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