Do you and your doctor discuss your BMI when you receive your annual physical? Many people do. This conversation might be positive (“Keep up the good work!”) or harsh (“Make adjustments or else!”) depending on where you are on the BMI chart.
The BMI (body mass index) is a popular measure of weight-for-height developed in the early 20th century. But is it the best measure of your health?
In recent years, BMI has been scrutinized as an indicator of obesity and health risk. Critics say that people with a high BMI may not be at a higher risk for health problems. Other measures, such as waist circumference, are better indicators of obesity and health risk.
We’ll go over what BMI is, as well as its benefits and drawbacks, in this article to provide a better-informed response to the question, ” Is BMI the best measure of your health?
BMI stands for Body Mass Index.
The BMI (body mass index) measures a person’s weight. The height and weight of a person are needed to calculate it. This calculation yields a number you can use to identify a person’s chronic illness risk factor. As a result, it is used by some medical and fitness experts as a gauge of general health.
The concept of employing this formula dates back to 1832. Adolphe Quetelet, a Belgian mathematician who enjoyed applying calculus to human physiology, founded it. As a result, it was first known as the Quetelet Index. An American scientist called Ancel Keys termed it the Body Mass Index in 1972.
How to Calculate Your BMI
Though several online calculators are available, like this one here, You may also calculate your BMI by hand. Multiply your weight in kilos by your squared height in meters. If you’d instead use pounds, divide your weight in pounds. The following is an example of a standard BMI chart:
- 18.5 pounds or less – you are underweight
- 18.5 to 24.9 pounds – you are an average or healthy weight
- 25.0 to 29.9 pounds – you are overweight
- 30.0 to 34.9 pounds – you are obese (obesity class I)
- 35.0 to 39.9 pounds – you are obese (obesity class II) (obesity class II)
- A score of 40.0 or greater indicates severe obesity (obesity class III)
According to this chart, a healthy BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9. If your BMI is above a certain level, you are considered overweight or obese. You are considered underweight if your BMI is less than 18. But what exactly does this number imply?
The Benefits of BMI: The Relationship Between Body Composition and Health
Proponents of the BMI believe that a person’s weight is directly proportional to their health. In particular, as your waist circumference grows, so does your risk of developing weight-related disorders.
This belief is based on scientific evidence. Obesity has been linked to several chronic health issues, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, and various cancers are among them. Obesity also raises your chances of dying young.
As a result, if your BMI is normal, you are less likely to acquire one of these health problems. A high BMI, on the other hand, increases your health risk. Isn’t that correct? Yes, it appears to do so. However, supporters emphasize that a person’s weight does not represent the entire narrative.
BMI Drawbacks: When the BMI Scale Fails
Assume you’re a doctor who checks your patient’s chart before entering the exam room. You see that they are 5’7″ tall and weigh 170 pounds. This puts them in the obese BMI category. You mentally prepare your speech, but as you open the door, you see someone who is fit. They look to have a lot of lean body mass and very little fat on their bodies. This is the crux of the BMI issue.
Opponents argue that, even though the BMI formula claims to assess a person’s body mass index, it does not. It only looks at the ratio of body weight to height. It doesn’t consider how much is made up of fat and muscle.
Anyone who has spent a significant amount of time growing muscle will almost certainly be classified as overweight or obese. This is even though their body fat percentage is likely to be low. Because BMI has nothing to do with body fat, it isn’t an accurate predictor of disease in situations like this.
So, is your BMI a good indicator of your health?
BMI is linked to general health. However, it is only one part of the puzzle. You must consider all other elements for a more comprehensive image.
Because obesity appears to be one of the most critical factors in assessing illness risk, calculating body fat percentage is a superior technique. This is especially true when working with clients with more muscle mass than the ordinary person. And there are a variety of possibilities.
Alternatives to the BMI Formula for Assessing Disease Risk
The following are a few methods for determining a client’s body fat percentage:
- Dexa Scan. This x-ray can assist in distinguishing between fat and lean tissue in a person. The cost of a scan might range from $20 to $150 or more. You can find a location near you using the DEXA Scan online search.
- Weighing in the water. Hydrostatic weighing is another name for this technology. It entails weighing a person while underwater and then weighing them again. The greater the disparity in their weight, the higher their fat percentage. This approach is thought to be accurate and relatively inexpensive.
- The thickness of the skinfold. About half of a person’s fat is found beneath the skin. As a result, determining the fat proportion of skinfolds can be pretty precise. This is an excellent approach to tracking your progress without using a scale. Skinfold calipers are available at both retail and sporting goods stores. You can quickly get this measured with a fitness professional.
BMI is not a perfect measure of your health. It does not consider muscle mass or body composition, which can be essential in determining your overall health. Other health measurements, such as waist-to-hip ratio, may be more accurate indicators of your risk for disease. So take a deep breath before panicking because your BMI is over 25. Then be sure to consult with your doctor to see what other measurements can help you determine your actual health status.
If you need an Inbody scan or a skinfold test, contact us, and we can help you start tracking your body fat.