Just a few months after having her second baby, singer and actress Pink posted a photo on Instagram of herself working out. But she wasn’t bragging about her “post-baby body.” Instead, she shared an inspiring message about how the scale and your body mass index (BMI) aren’t always the most accurate measures of your health.
In the caption, the 37-year-old says her 5-foot-3-inch frame and 160-pound weight would be considered “obese” by “regular standards.” She’s referring to the CDC’s BMI calculator, which actually puts her in the “overweight” category, but not obese. The BMI scale is a tool used to evaluate whether someone’s weight status may increase their risk for health problems like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.
The star, who’s shown off her muscular figure and rock-hard abs in many performances over the years, says she’s not yet at her goal weight but certainly doesn’t “feel obese.” She also suggests to her followers to “stay off that scale.” The empowering post encouraged thousands of fans to chime in with their own postpartum weight loss journeys and thank her for “being real.”
A Closer Look at the BMI Calculator
Pink’s post highlight s the problem with using the BMI scale as a full picture of a person’s health. “BMI is a ratio of height vs. weight and can indicate health risks from weight, yet this measurement doesn’t take into account your body composition,” explains Brunilda Nazario, MD, associate medical director at WebMD.
What the number on the scale doesn’t show: the percentage of muscle vs. fat that you carry. “This is important when determining your health risks associated with being overweight or obese,” Nazario says.
Take Arnold Schwarzenegger, for example. At 6 feet 2 inches tall and 245 pounds, his BMI of 31.5 falls into the “obese” category, but due to his body composition, his health risks will be very different from those of a less fit person with the same measurements. “Your heart health and fitness level offset some of the risks of a higher BMI,” Nazario explains. So if Pink works out regularly and has a lot of muscle mass, her BMI may not represent how healthy she truly is. Other things that affect your health risks associated with BMI can include your ethnicity, family history, medical conditions, and age, she adds.
Want a better way to gauge your health risks? Find your waist-to-hip ratio and waist size, Nazario says. “Excess fat around your belly correlates with higher risk of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases like diabetes and high cholesterol. Plus, belly fat indicates insulin resistance and may have a more detrimental effect on cholesterol, blood pressure, and how the body handles blood sugar.”