"What Is Donald Trump's BMI" Is Not The Question You Should Be Asking


After Hillary Clinton's pneumonia was discovered following her early exit from a Sept. 11 memorial service, Donald Trump vowed to release the results of a physical — if not his complete medical records — and challenged Clinton to do the same. Trump decided to release more health details during an interview with TV personality Dr. Mehmet Oz, which he also sent to the Washington Post. There were plenty of numbers that the two went over, but only some have come out publicly and people have since begun questioning: What is Trump's BMI? It's high, but despite being the focus of much media coverage, BMI is not a great way to talk about obesity.

The numbers come from interviews with members of the studio audience, as the interview won't air until Sept. 15. Politico reported that two audience members put Trump's weight at 236 pounds. Fast Company later converted that to a BMI number using the CDC's adult BMI calculator. Trump is reportedly 6 feet 2 inches, which gives him a body-mass index of 30.3. Anything above 30 is considered obese, and the CDC has said that a "normal weight range" for someone Trump's height would be 144 to 194 pounds.

But forget all that. BMI is really not a good way to measure obesity or one's general health. One, it's extremely outdated. It was invented in the 1800s. Since then, the medical community has come to understand that not all weight is the same. For example, athletes with a lot of muscle might test as obese, and you could argue that Trump has a lot of muscles throwing off his BMI (which is the case with Matt Damon), but that's not the case with Trump. There are people who fall in the normal range that have fat deposits in places that are unhealthy and may increase their risk of disease.

As for Trump, there are other measures that point to whether or not he is truly healthy; one is his cholesterol levels. Reports from his interview with Oz showed his levels are in a healthy range, but only after he took a Statin drug to lower it. Another way would be to study his diet and exercise. According to what some audience members told CNN, Trump told Oz that he doesn't exercise regularly.

More details on his diet conversation will likely come out on Sept. 16, but that hasn't kept the Democratic Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid from commenting in an offensive way: "He’s 70 years old, he’s not slim and trim. He brags about eating fast food every day. Look at his health a little bit."

Reid is surely trying to change the focus of health from Clinton to Trump. Her campaign released more details from her doctor just hours after Trump's interview with Oz. Clinton's doctor. Dr. Lisa Bardack wrote an update on Clinton: "She is recovering well with antibiotics and rest. She continues to remain healthy and fit to serve as president of the United States." The medical details released by the Clinton camp are far more detailed than anything Trump has given out so far, although he promises more will be released — unlike his tax returns.