As I reported last week, Italy, Spain, and Israel, have banned catwalk models who fall below a Body Mass Index of 18.5. I understand why 18.5 was chosen as a cut-off, but I don’t agree. I propose that a BMI of 20. Here’s why:
BMI of 18.5 weight corresponds to international BMI standards for a minimum healthy weight, meaning weights below BMI of 18.5 are considered medically underweight by the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO BMIs are used on a worldwide basis to primarily assess the health of people living in developing countries particularly in Asia and Africa which account for over 75 percent of the world’s population. (Btw North Americans make up only 5 percent of the world’s population.) WHO encouraged individual countries to make alterations in BMI categories to reflect different associations between BMI and health risks for their particular populations. But in 1998, the US’s National Institutes of Health NIH adopted the international BMI categories wholesale. And because WHO uses one standard for both genders, the US also dropped having different BMI cut-offs for men and women. Until 1998, the US minimum weight was a BMI of 19 for women and a BMI of 20.7 for men.