Use the right measures to avoid the ‘BMI Trap’

Curium | 13 Nov 2015 | News | General

There has been alarm expressed in the news this week from parents who have received a letter from the NHS informing them that their child is overweight. The source of this diagnosis is based on their child’s BMI which has been measured by the healthcare services during a school visit.

Aside from the surprise of receiving the letter; which apparently informs Mr and Mrs Miggins that their Prince or Princess is a little lardy, should eat a little less and run around a lot more, the main concern is stimulated by the validity of the measures used.

BMI measures the relationship between height and weight and the results then classify people in four different weight categories;

  • Underweight,
  • Normal,
  • Overweight, or
  • Obese

Whilst the relationship between height and weight does influence body fat, it does not distinguish between bones, fat and muscle. As a parent myself, my personal vanity might be very mildly bruised if I was informed that my own weight was not ‘normal’, but if I am told this about my kids it’s like a dagger to my heart.

It becomes easy to appreciate parents concerns when based on this approach, supreme athletes like Jonny Wilkinson is classed as ‘overweight’ whilst Sir Chris Hoy is in fact ‘obese’…yes of course they are!

Whatever we do in life, professionally or domestically, the success of our activity can be measured by us; it is after all, how we quantify our success and therefore helps us feel good about our achievements.  Identifying the right measures ought to be straightforward but it is easy to fall into the ‘BMI trap’ in which the outputs used are limiting and do not really tell you what you need them to.

Within the world of inbound contact centres there is a plethora of data which can be used and created to assess performance, but unless the right metrics are used and understood your perception of how you are performing will be inaccurate.

Over a number of years now, I have had the pleasure of working within a wide range of contact centres and amongst many activities in which I get involved, there is often a requirement to identify the most appropriate measures for the business to fully understand the ‘operational health’ of their organisation. Much like the BMI issue, attempts to ‘blend’ or ‘merge’ results into a single output often lead to confusion and hide the real opportunities for continuous improvements in operational health.

There is of course never a magic number or silver bullet which provides the answer, instead there is a balanced range of pure metrics which need to be monitored to track performance and progress. With the right set of measures established, it is typical to witness immediate and sustained benefits through improved operational health, all of which positively impact the business, their people and their customers. The same is of course true for our own personal well being and health.

I’m pretty sure that my BMI would see me classed as overweight and whilst I have no intention of comparing my physique to Messrs’ Wilkinson and Hoy, I will use a balanced set of measures to assess what I need to do to in order maintain a good standard of health.

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