There is no getting around it, the days of healthy living, exercise and weight maintenance are here to stay. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) classify 33% of Americans as obese. This means one out of three Americans struggling with being overweight and obese will then also struggle with related diseases such as; strokes, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer.
In order to confront the health problems related with being overweight and obese, you must know where the health of your body lies. The question is, is your BMI an accurate assessment of your health?
What is Body Mass Index? Body Mass Index, more commonly known as “BMI”, is an indicator of the amount of body fat a person has. The BMI essentially divides your weight by your height to give you the body fat analysis. The greater amount of body fat a person carries, the more likely they are to experience health related diseases. “Weight for height” is an important measurement because when you’re in the ideal range of weight for height, you can expect to live the longest life possible with limited illnesses. When a person steps out of this range, on either side; having too little weight or having too much weight, is when health problems occur.
How is BMI Calculated? BMI is calculated by using the weight: height ratio, also known as Quetelet’s Index.
The metric system formula is: Body Weight in kilograms (divided by) (Height in meters)2.
The formula for calculating pounds and inches is: (Body weight in pounds) x 705 (divided by) (Height in inches)2
Why is BMI Necessary? The results of your BMI tell your doctors’ whether you are in the healthy range of weight-for-height. BMI is a useful tool for screening to see if a person is overweight (has too much weight-for-height) and/or obese (has too high of an accumulation of body fat). The definitions of overweight and obese go hand in hand with the measurements of BMI. Healthy BMI: 18.5-24.9, Overweight BMI: 25.0-29.9, Obese BMI (classes 1 and 2): 30.0-39.9, Extremely Obese BMI: 40.0 or greater.
What Your BMI Says About Your Health Your BMI, along with a measurement of your waist circumference, are valid predictors of potential health problems. When body fat accumulates in the abdomen of a human, the health risks increase along with your waistline. This deep visceral fat, fat that covers the organs of the body, negatively affects the organs’ ability to function. The study, “Screening for and clinical evaluation of obesity in adults”, links abdominal fat to cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, inflammatory diseases and an increased production of hormones in the body.
Consistencies and Flaws when using BMI The bottom line is, your BMI, when used with waist measurement and risk factor assessments, is a valid calculation of a person’s health. According to the World Health Organization, “The health risks associated with increasing BMI are continuous…the increasing prevalence of overweight and obesity is associated with many diet-related chronic diseases including diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, stroke, hypertension and certain cancers.” Every system has its flaws however, including the Body Mass Index. BMI does not take into account body composition, i.e. the protein, carbohydrates, water, minerals and fat that makes up your body. BMI will be misleading only for people who have a large amount of muscle compared to fat, such as an adult athlete. This is why BMI is used in association with waist measurement; both measurements assess your risks.
(BMI is calculated differently for children and teens, although when used in conjunction with waist measurement, has valid results)
Calculate your BMI to see if the health of your body is being negatively affected. Once you know where your health stands it’s easier to make the changes needed to positively affect your life; maybe smaller portions, longer walks or more daily veggies and fruits, they all add up to a more healthier you.
Bray, George A. M.D., Pi-Sunyer, F Xavier, M.D., MPH., Mulder, Jean E M.D. Screening for and clinical evaluation of obesity in adults Last literature review version 19.2: May 2011 | This topic last updated: June 10, 2010 www.uptodate.com