AMITIAE - Tuesday 15 March 2015

BMI Calculator: One of Many Helpful Apps to Remind us of Fitness Levels

apple and chopsticks


By Graham K. Rogers


During lunchtimes where I work, the television is often on with a news program from one of the Thai channels: usually Channel 3. One of the items today looked at fashion models, then morphed into a news report on a sufferer of anorexia, who looked as skeletal as one of those victims from a WW2 concentration camp. I commented to a colleague that it reminded me of drug-abuse sufferers I had come across in the UK, the self-abuse was so stark.

The TV item moved on to the idea of a healthy weight and Body Mass Index (BMI) with a couple of demonstrations, with presenters entering their own data into an onscreen calculator. A quick look on the Apple Store found me a couple of these and I downloaded the basic, BMI Calculator.

The app is simple and straightforward to use. After the opening screen the app displays three sections for entering data: Length (sic), Weight, Age along with Gender (M/F). This last section is marked Optional for those under 19.

Units are available in Metric or Imperial. As well as inches, users may also select +ft to enter height in Feet and Inches, while weight units include Kg, Lbs and Stones.

I had just weighed myself the day before, so entered that data in Kg, along with my height, age and gender, then pressed the Calculate BMI button beneath. As I expected, the BMI index shown was higher than it should be and displayed a terse, "Overweight" message.

At the bottom of the main screen are icons to other parts of the app: Settings, Graph and Information. Settings allows the user to set default units. Here I found that length (it should be height) was wrongly spelled. The graph section was a nicely coloured screen, but as I have only made one calculation at this stage, there is only a single data point, so no graph appears. A button at the bottom of the screen allows a user to clear all data.


The information section gave an outline on BMI, but this had not been finished, ending in mid-sentence. It was not well-written; but this would not have any effect on the use of the app. There was also a disclaimer.

The app was developed by Data Supply who also have a number of other related apps for download. While I was pleased with the ease that I was able to calculate the BMI, providing me with a much-needed reminder, I was disappointed with the poor spelling.

The developers are from the Netherlands and the Dutch are known for good English skills. I know I am an English teacher so perhaps focus on these problems, but there is no real excuse: a check would fix these minor problems. Failing to make the check, leaves the app looking shoddy.

Nonetheless, this is a useful app because of the reminder it implicitly contains to those of us whose lifestyles (cakes and ale in my case) may need some adjustment. There are other apps in the iTunes App Store with a similar purpose, many of which will help us use the data with other health apps appearing on our devices.

Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand where he is also Assistant Dean. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs. He is now continuing that in the Bangkok Post supplement, Life.



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