Dr. Google’s Health Education

In this modern-day age of technology, with a worldwide web of education at our fingertips and the highest percentage of entrepreneurs than ever before, the market for health coaches, psychotherapists and other mind-body educators is highly saturated. A plethora of information about physical and mental health is available for anyone to share and access at any time, especially with tools such as search engines like Google and online symptom checkers like WebMD. As a consumer of information, it is your responsibility to make well-informed decisions when it comes to your own health and well-being.

For this post, I will start with the example of Body Mass Index, and the descrepancies between medical doctors and Dr. Google. If you’ve been anywhere near social media lately, you’ll have already seen the rising trend of the hashtag, #BMIisbullshit. As a healthcare professional within the integrative medicine specialty, I understand the basis behind this reasoning: BMI alone does not take into account the muscle mass, bone density or overall body composition. For example, an athlete with high muscle mass will inaccurately be labeled obese, whereas an unhealthy individual with an eating disorder may be labeled normal. As such, it understandably is not the most accurate measure of body fat content and certainly not an accurate measure of overall health.

That being said, I would like to provide some further clarity and knowledge on this topic. According the Center for Diease Control (CDC):

Body Mass Index (BMI) is a person’s weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in meters. A high BMI can be an indicator of high body fatness. BMI can be used to screen for weight categories that may lead to health problems but it is not diagnostic of the body fatness or health of an individual.”

BMI is a tool, that when used in conjunction with other weight measurement tools can be very useful in screening for potential health issues. I would like to add that in specific cases such as inpatient hospital settings, many people come to the hospital when they are sick as a result of unhealthy lifestyles, and a majority of them are not athletes. For these patients, BMI is an initial screening tool that provides the physician with general baseline data before performing further assessment.

In conclusion, these facts clearly demonstrate that BMI is not “bullshit”…it’s just not an effective weight or health measurement on its own. In addition, every human body is different, so of course there is no one tool that applies to every person. However, the use of BMI in certain situations can be incredibly useful in many healthcare settings for providers to get a baseline and use as a resource along with other tools to promote better lifestyle.

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Another example is the ridiculous concept that everyone should be eating every 2-3 hours even if they are not hungry (I could go off on a separate rant about that) because the mind cannot always tell when the body is hungry. My point is, how many of these articles are written by ACTUAL doctors (phD or at least some medical knowledge longer than a 6 month online course?). And how much of this research is evidence-based with adequate clinical trials or at least case studies for methods that are individualized?

Just to put one last example out there, for those of you who are still skeptical, I’ll mention an online group in which a truly depressed and suicicidal person was asking for recommendations for a good psychologist. An actual psychologist, who has received a Master’s or pHD in psychology or counseling or social work. I was appalled to see entrepreneurs in the comments section suggest this person see them because they are a “cognitive behavioral therapist”. CBT is ONE form of therapy that can be completed in 4-6 week online courses, that absolutely do not make you a psychologist or qualified to counsel others in the way that an actual counselor.

This are just a few of the many uninformed trends out there with people who believe whatever they have been told or whatever applies to them, that is different from what a medical doctor would say. This is not to say that there is no benefit seeing a healthcare provider other than a doctor; rather, it can be incredibly beneficial to see a more low-cost specialty certification coach, as I am myself, as long as they are honest about their level of education and then you willingly choose to see them of your own free will.

If you get anything from this post, it is to please EDUCATE YOURSELF. There are plenty of people out there who can put out quite the convincing argument based on their personal beliefs or experiences, and label themselves the expert on topics on which they may have passion but not the matching factual knowledge. What I hope to prevent is innocent people taken advantage of by under-qualified entrepreneurs, and to encourage you all to make informed decisions before taking action based off something you read on the internet.


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