The Body Mass Index chart was first developed by Belgian mathematician and sociologist Lambert Adolphe Jacques Quetelet between 1830 and 1850. BMI was intended to measure the ratio of a persons weight compared to their height and not a person's overall fitness.
Adolphe Quetelet was born in Ghent, a part of the French Republic, on Februrary 17, 1796. At the age of 19, Quetelet began teaching mathematics, and went on to receive a doctorate from the University of Ghent in the field. While much of his scientific work focused on astronomy and meteorology, he also had a keen interest the emerging fields of demography, criminology and sociology. He was incredibly interested in the field of statistics, which was a relatively new science at the time, leading him to create the BMI chart as part of his work in what he called "social physics."
The BMI chart has been a constant source of contention among medical professionals. Quetelet originally developed the chart to aid the government in collecting statistical data so that it could properly allocate resources to the general population. As he had no medical background, the formula does not take into account bone density, muscle tone or waist size.