If you’ve ever had a standard check-up with your doctor or other health care provider, they probably calculated your BMI. This is a simple recipe that uses your height and weight to see if you’re carrying a lot of fat.
It’s been a standard way of judging a person’s health since the early 1900s (with adjustments made along the way) but although it does provide a good outline of the condition a person has, being a simple test, it is not the whole picture and should be viewed in tandem With other considerations.
To get an accurate picture of how healthy an individual is, it is important to look at BMI no take into account. Although BMI is a good starting point, looking at the person’s age, gender, ethnicity and build will help create a better chart of that person’s status and whether they need to make lifestyle changes. There are other ways to measure body fat (Opens in a new tab) They can be more accurate – but they are usually based on more complex calculations.
Contributor: Dr. Juliet McGratan
Juliette McGratan has been a practicing physician for 16 years, and is now an award-winning running author and coach. In addition to her years as a GP, she was also the leading clinical champion of physical activity in the North West Public Health of England. (Opens in a new tab).
What exactly is BMI?
BMI stands for “Body Mass Index” and is commonly used to ascertain whether a person is at risk of being obese or underweight. BMI measurements are associated with many health issues related to obesity, so they are a valid starting point when looking at a person’s health status. It is also easy to understand because it is based on a digital scale.
Each entry on the scale relates to the number of kilograms per square meter (so a BMI of 25 would be 25 kg/m²).
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Opens in a new tab), a BMI of less than 18.4 on the scale is considered “underweight”. For most individuals, a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9) is considered normal or acceptable, while people between the ages of 25 and 29.9 are classified as overweight. Anyone with a BMI of 30 or more is considered “obese.”
However, because BMI does not focus exclusively on fat and also includes muscle and other tissues, it is not a complete assessment on its own.
|less than 18.5||weight loss|
|18.5 – 24.9||natural|
|25.0 – 29.9||overweight|
|30.0 and above||Fat|
How do I calculate my BMI?
To calculate BMI, you need to know:
- how much do you weight
- How much your height
This can be in metric or imperial measurements. There is a formula for both.
For the scale, you simply calculate your height in square centimeters, and then use that number to divide your weight in kilograms (weight/height²).
For Empire, calculate your height (in inches) and use the number to divide your weight in pounds (weight (lbs) ÷ height (inches)²). This time, also multiply by 703.
For an easy way to calculate BMI, you can use one of the many calculators available online, where you enter your weight and height and calculate it for you.
What is BMI used for?
Health care professionals use BMI to help them assess their patients’ risk factors for certain weight-related health conditions.
“Measuring your BMI can help guide you, and your nurse, or doctor, as to whether you are at a healthy weight.” Dr. Juliet McGratan, former GP and author of Sorted: The Active Woman’s Guide to Health says: (Opens in a new tab). “There are health risks associated with being overweight and underweight.”
However, calculating your BMI is not only useful on a personal level. “BMI can be used at an individual level to help you determine whether you need to gain or lose weight, but it is also used at a broader level where it indicates the health of a population,” Dr. McGratan adds.
So knowing a population’s average BMI, in conjunction with other health statistics, can give health professionals more information about how to target communities that may need extra help with their lifestyle and healthcare options.
Should I worry about high or low BMI?
If you put your details into a calculator and the results aren’t within the “healthy” margins, don’t panic.
“It is important to know that BMI is only a guide and can be misleading for some people. For example, if you are very muscular, your BMI may indicate that you are overweight when in fact you are healthy,” says Dr. McGratan.
But it’s always worth checking if you’re not sure, as there are risks associated with standing on either side of the “unhealthy” standards:
“If your BMI is outside the healthy range, it’s a good idea to discuss it with your doctor,” Dr. McGratan adds. “Having a very low BMI may put you at an increased risk of developing medical conditions including osteoporosis where bones are thin and can break easily.
There are also several known health risks associated with being overweight or obese, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and many types of cancer. Your doctor can help you figure out what a BMI reading means for you personally and if there are steps you need to take to correct it.”
Is BMI an accurate measure of my health?
BMI is a good starting point, but some researchers argue that BMI is not a good measure of a healthy weight. As McGratan explains, “Your BMI doesn’t tell the whole story. A person with a BMI in the normal range can be very unhealthy if they don’t exercise regularly, or if they smoke or drink excessive amounts of alcohol.”
“Similarly, a person with a high BMI can be fitter and healthier than a person with a low BMI. It all comes down to a matter of their lifestyle and habits. BMI should always be interpreted in conjunction with other factors such as lifestyle and group ethnicity and other medical conditions a person may have.”
As mentioned earlier, the main drawback of BMI is that it does not measure fat exclusively, nor does it measure where this fat is distributed in the body. Therefore, it is important to look at the BMI result in conjunction with other tests such as a waist measurement to quickly determine if a person is healthy or needs more help.
“Also remember that good general health includes both physical and mental health and that BMI does not measure your mental health,” says Dr. McGratan.
BMI remains a good way to quickly get a picture of a person’s health, but it is not a one-size-fits-all solution and must be considered in conjunction with other considerations such as lifestyle, build, gender, age, ethnicity, and general health of a person. the individual.
If you are at all concerned about your health in relation to your BMI, seek advice from your doctor or nurse.
This article is not intended to provide medical advice and readers should consult a physician or healthcare professional before adopting any diet or treatment.