A middle-schooler refused to complete her school homework asking to measure her body mass index (BMI); her reason for refusal became viral online.
BMI had primarily been an economical tool to measure the number of obese and overweight individuals in a given population.
The first time eighth grader Tessa Embry measured her BMI, it revealed that she was obese. This is why the teen from Indiana refused to take it again for a second homework. She instead penned an essay detailing the insecurities she had for being a "bigger girl."
Embry started by acknowledging that she is on the bigger side but explained that it does not mean she is unhealthy.
"Ever since I can remember, I've been a 'bigger girl,' and I'm completely fine with that; I'm strong and powerful."
She also shared how she had body image issues and had resorted to ways on how to look slimmer.
"But, at the beginning of the year, I started having very bad thoughts when my body was brought into a conversation. I would wear four bras to try and cover up my back fat, and I would try to wrap ace bandages around my stomach so I would look skinnier."
She ended her letter by saying that a person's health should be more than what is seen on the scales and that health should be measured holistically.
Embry indeed has a point in saying that BMI does not measure overall health of an individual. A recent study published in the International Journal of Obesity stated that individuals categorized by BMI values as obese are not necessarily unhealthy.
Nutrition specialist Keith-Thomas Ayoob said that BMI measurement should never be used in a school setting, as it opens students to stereotyping. He suggested that schools should instead promote students to have healthy weights.
"She's correct but more information is necessary," said Ayoob. "BMI is a measure of weight based on your height. It doesn't tell you about body composition.
Experts maintain that BMI measurement and identification of obese individuals are necessary to monitor health risks. Majority of obese individuals are more prone to develop life threatening diseases such as coronary heart disease, hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, and mental illnesses.
Mindy Embry, Tessa's mother, believes her daughter did the right thing.
"We're really proud of her for standing up for what she believes in," said the elder Embry. "She has a healthy diet and she is active."
Photo: Gregg O' Connell | Flickr