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.

As of 2013, BMI below 18.5 is the new diagnostic guideline for anorexia nervosa. I would hope we don’t want to require models to be at weight that is indicative of anorexia nervosa, a life threatening condition with high mortality.

Next week, I will unveil my recommendations for new BMI categories for risky low weight, low weight, minimum safe weight, safe weight, and risky high weight and show you how to figure out your BMI category.

Marcia

Nutritionist Marcia Herrin and Nancy Matsumoto, co-authors of The Parent’s Guide to Eating Disorders, Gūrze Books. Marcia is also author the soon to be published Nutrition Counseling in the Treatment of Eating Disorders (September, 2012). Read more from Marcia and Nancy by clicking here.

Copyrighted by Marcia Herrin and Nancy Matsumoto

Recent Posts in Eating Disorders News

Feeling Stuck in Your Battle Against an Eating Disorder?

ACT can be another tool to jumpstart your recovery.

Disclosing One’s Own Disorder to Prove Recovery is Possible

How one therapist uses her own recovery to motivate and inspire her clients.

How the Asian Pop Culture Boom Is Feeding Eating Disorders

Imitating the size, shape and even skin color of K-pop idols.

Why We Disagree With The Film "Fed Up"

Let's not make the same mistake twice and vilify certain types of food.

Gone by Emma B.

What it is like to have an eating disorder when no one notices.

Anorexia Nervosa Poses High Risk for Fractures in Girls

Bone problems are serious problem now!