Six different women, all 5-foot-7 and 145 pounds with a BMI of 22.8. You'd think they probably look pretty similar, right?
Take a look at the chart of 3-D body scans above, created for Cosmopolitan.com by New York-based startup Body Labs, and you'll see that even though these women have the same height and weight, placing them at normal or healthy weight on the BMI scale, their bodies look nothing alike.
That's because the way that body mass is distributed over the body, and the makeup of that body mass (whether it's fat or muscle), can change from person to person. If you compare the women's torso shapes on the chart, you'll see how drastic those distinctions can be.
This chart, and one similar to it published recently by The New York Times, challenges the notion that BMI is an accurate measure of an individual's health and fitness, as anyone who's ever strength-trained and gained muscle weight already knows.
"You can be an athlete in great shape and be deemed overweight or even obese," says Jonathan Schwartz, the director of products at Body Labs. "Or you could have an average BMI but carry a significantly higher amount of mass in your torso, which as some studies show can be a predictor of health risks such as cardiovascular disease or diabetes."
It's a good reminder to not rely solely on BMI when it comes to gauging your health. There's more to it than just a few numbers.
Marie Claire Newsletter
Celebrity news, beauty, fashion advice, and fascinating features, delivered straight to your inbox!
Helin Jung is a writer and editor based in Los Angeles. She was formerly the executive lifestyle editor of Cosmopolitan.com.
Taylor Russell Is a Floral-Embellished Vision in Loewe
She *is* the moment.
By Melony Forcier
16 Quiet-Luxury-Inspired Pieces to Update Your Winter Wardrobe (And to Wear Forever)
Even better that they're all 25 percent off.
By Brooke Knappenberger
Meryl Streep’s Four Kids Show Their Support For Her In A Very Rare Red Carpet Appearance
Streep and her husband of 45 years, Don Gummer, confirmed their separation in October.
By Rachel Burchfield
Senator Klobuchar: "Early Detection Saves Lives. It Saved Mine"
Senator and breast cancer survivor Amy Klobuchar is encouraging women not to put off preventative care any longer.
By Senator Amy Klobuchar
How Being a Plus-Size Nude Model Made Me Finally Love My Body
I'm plus size, but after I decided to pose nude for photos, I suddenly felt more body positive.
By Kelly Burch
I'm an Egg Donor. Why Was It So Difficult for Me to Tell People That?
Much like abortion, surrogacy, and IVF, becoming an egg donor was a reproductive choice that felt unfit for society’s standards of womanhood.
By Lauryn Chamberlain
The 20 Best Probiotics to Keep Your Gut in Check
Gut health = wealth.
By Julia Marzovilla
Simone Biles Is Out of the Team Final at the Tokyo Olympics
She withdrew from the event due to a medical issue, according to USA Gymnastics.
By Rachel Epstein
The Truth About Thigh Gaps
We're going to need you to stop right there.
By Kenny Thapoung
3 Women On What It’s Like Living With An “Invisible” Condition
Despite having no outward signs, they can be brutal on the body and the mind. Here’s how each woman deals with having illnesses others often don’t understand.
By Emily Shiffer
The High Price of Living With Chronic Pain
Three women open up about how their conditions impact their bodies—and their wallets.
By Alice Oglethorpe