Your BMI is one measure of your health that some doctors and even insurance companies use, but it’s not the ultimate measure. It uses a ratio of height to weight to assess whether you’re underweight, average, overweight or obese. It’s definitely not the final verdict on your overall health, just one indicator. It does not consider whether excess weight comes from lean muscle tissue or fat or whether you’ve always been naturally thin or lost a lot of weight recently without trying.
How does the height to weight ratio of the BMI work?
Consider someone that weighs 150 pounds. They might be extremely fit, but then again, could be too heavy or thin. It’s all about how tall you are and your gender. A woman that’s barely topping out 4’10” would probably be overweight, while a man that’s 6’8″ would be too thin. That’s why the BMI chart was created. The doctor could quickly find the patient’s weight at the top and height at the side, using the appropriate chart for a male, female or child. The place where they intersect is the BMI number. As a quick reference, the doctor could see if the patient was underweight, overweight, average or obese. Most of the charts are color coded to make it even easier. It’s not the final answer, but a starting point.
What are the problems with just using the BMI as a guide to health?
People are all built differently. Some have larger bone structures, which affect their weight and give them a higher BMI, even though they may not be overweight. Muscle tissue weighs more per cubic inch than fat tissue does. Two people may be 5’7″ and weigh 160 pounds, but the muscular person will be thinner. The muscular person with better dimensions could be considered overweight, even though he or she may not be. Recent studies also show that BMI is not a good indicator of heart issues.
Noting the BMI each time can help assess the patient’s health.
Even the first glance at a BMI, especially if the patient is sitting in front of the doctor, can give a peak into the health issues faced by the person. If they’re classed as obese, there’s a potential for type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and sleep apnea. The doctor might draw blood to check glucose levels or ask about weight related diseases. Watching that number change quickly, such as going from a 25, which is overweight, to a 15, which is underweight, could indicate a serious disease.
- There are other measurements that are equally simple and can give even more information. Waist circumference, for instance, is a critical measurement, particularly if the BMI indicates obesity. A waist size bigger than 34.6″ for women and 40.2″ for men indicates a bigger chance for health issues.
- Another measurements that is a good indicator is the relative fat mass index—FMI. It’s calculated for men using 64 – (20 x height/waist circumference) and for women 76 – (20 x height/waist circumference).
- The role of BMI is to judge how much fat tissue individuals have. There are better ways to find that, like an MRI scan and underwater weighing, but those are extremely costly by comparison.
- If you want to track your own fitness progress, use your waist measurement as your guide. It will help you track the loss of visceral fat, which is the most dangerous type of fat.
For more information, contact us today at BioFit Performance