Are you struggling to regain control of your health and weight but aren't sure where you stand without looking at the scale? You may have heard of BMI as a measurement for health and how it works. Get the scoop on what to know, if BMI is actually important, and what to do if you fall in an "at-risk" category.
What Is BMI Anyway?
BMI, or Body Mass Index, is a measurement of your height to weight ratio. It makes sense that the taller you are, the more you probably weigh. The formula to calculate BMI looks like this:
Formula: weight (lb) / [height (in) ] 2 x 703
Confused? You're not alone, but you can get more information from Heart.org to help figure out your numbers. Once doctors have a patient's BMI numbers, they use it to determine if you're somewhere between underweight and obese.
- BMI under 18.5 - Underweight
- BMI between 18.5-24.9 - Healthy
- BMI between 25-29.9 - Overweight
- BMI of 30 or more - Obese
What Is the History of BMI?
BMI was first introduced in the 19th century by Lambert Adolphe Jacques Quetelet, a Belgian mathematician. He was not a physician but decided to develop a way to measure obesity in the general population. The government used these figures to help determine how and where to allocate resources to people impacted by BMI.
Is BMI Accurate?
BMI can sometimes help predict adverse health outcomes but is generally not considered an accurate health predictor because it doesn't determine body fat percentage or its distribution. Keep in mind that pro-athlete Michael Jordan was nearly "obese" in his prime due to a BMI of 27-29. However, he was an incredibly fit athlete with a high percentage of lean body mass and muscle, increasing his number on the scale. BMI simply doesn't work for everyone and only calculates your height and number on a scale, making it impossible to know what else is going on with your body.
So Is Tracking BMI Ever Helpful?
Maybe. There are some instances that BMI may be useful for measuring weight and health. For starters, it was initially intended as a marker for a large population of people, so BMI could offer some insights when used in that situation. BMI can also serve as a basic starting point to determine if you may be impacted by weight-related health issues. Overall, experts agree that tracking BMI is not helpful for individuals, and there are better alternatives to measure health and weight.
Is There an Alternative to BMI?
Fortunately, there are more valuable and practical ways to measure your body proportions relative to your weight and height. One of the most popular methods is figuring out your waist circumference measurement and doesn't require a calculator to do it. Simply use a tape measurer to measure your waist, indicating how much abdominal fat you may carry and impact your health. Women with a waist circumference of 35 and over and men with a waist circumference of 40 inches and over could put you in the "at-risk" health group.
What to Do If You Are At Risk
If you use an alternative like your waist circumference and find you're in the "at-risk" category, there is still time to take control of your health. Moving your body more, like walking or hiking, is one place to start. However, nutrition also plays a vital role in your health. Eat more whole foods, reduce processed snacks and treats, and incorporate a multi-vitamin into your diet. Missing nutrients can slow your metabolism and could lead to a low mood. The combined often cause weight gain as we struggle to regulate our bodies without the proper nutrition.
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