Did Michael Jackson Die Young?

Pop legend Michael Jackson just died at age 50.

“Gee, that’s young!” more than one person replied, when I shared the news.

But he lived several lives within those 50 years, including one as a boy wonder with the Jackson 5, and another as the King of Pop. He also lived as a recluse, on acreage that mixed Toyland with a zoo, and that life was curtailed by the one he lived as a defendant in a criminal case, from which he was exonerated.

How much life did he get out of his years? “Plenty,” is my guess.

You cannot take one statistic and infer too much from it.

Speaking of longevity and vitality, there is something called the Body Mass Index, or BMI. It is a single number that depicts your level of obesity. Here is a post by Alan Lickerman that explains this stat:

“Body Mass Index (BMI) is now the standard measurement used to assess body fat composition, calculated by dividing your weight in kilograms by your height in meters squared (calculate yours here). The National Institute of Health now defines anyone with a BMI>25 as overweight and anyone with a BMI>30 as obese (although it’s worth noting BMI fails as a good measure of obesity for people who are extremely muscular). Unfortunately, more than 50% of Americans have BMI’s over 25. Overweight and obesity have clearly reached epidemic proportions.”

That disclaimer in parentheses is golden, and proves my point. If you are muscular, you can probably toss away your BMI score with the tofu wrappers. It doesn’t tell enough of a story to describe or explain your fitness level.

I’m sure there are folks that beat themselves for having a BMI that is one or two points away from where they believe the optimal point is. The psychological and emotional damage they inflict is possibly worse than the weight they carry.

Add to this the fact that a very recent study says those that are slightly overweight, not “normal” weight, have a better chance to live longer, and most folks have to be utterly confused about interpreting the numbers they read on their bathroom scales.

That recent study, advocating slight pudginess, is just one stat, one data point, in a swirling sea of oversimplification.

Don’t allow yourself to become the captive of a single stat, because by itself, it is not conclusive in characterizing of your overall fitness level and quality of life.