One of the things you need to know in your desire to maintain a healthy body is the Body Mass Index (BMI).
This index is actually a measure, in percentage, of your body fat based on present weight and height. It essentially calculates if you are at a healthy weight.
Surprisingly, not all people understand the importance of being aware of their BMI.
It is actually as important as knowing your blood pressure and could show you if you need to lose, maintain or even gain weight.
A lot of medical professionals are actually encouraging individuals to pay attention to their BMI especially considering the increasing obesity epidemic in the nation.
Obesity, per se, may not be life-threatening but the complications which come by being obese such as diabetes and cardiovascular problems should be enough to make you sit up straight and take notice.
By tracking your BMI, you can control body weight and avoid such illnesses.
Measuring Your BMI
Finding out your BMI is relatively simple. You can rely on free online calculators or you can easily compute it on your own.
To calculate, simply follow these steps:
- Step 1: Obtain your weight, preferably in lbs.
- Step 2: Measure your height, preferably in inches.
- Step 3: Divide your weight by the square of your height (height x height).
- Step 4: Multiply the result by 703.
Once you have obtained your results, all you need to do is to find the category it falls under.
- Obese: 30 or greater
- Overweight: 25 to 29.9
- Normal weight: 18.5 to 24.9
- Underweight: less than 18.5
How Does A Person’s Age Affect BMI?
BMI is an indicator that refers to people over the age of 18, since by then the organism is growing and developing.
Optimal BMI values by age
Body Mass Index and Health
BMI is an indicator of total body fat in individuals and is therefore considered an indicator of health risk.
BMI is used by doctors to assess overweight and obesity. It is also used to assess a person’s health risks associated with obesity or malnutrition.
Health Risks Associated With High BMI
Those with a high body mass index are at risk of:
- Type 2 diabetes
- High blood cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Gallbladder diseases
- Osteoarthritis and joint disease
- Sleep apnea and snoring
- Premature death
Health Risks Associated With Low BMI
Although a high BMI can be an indicator of increased health risk, a low BMI can also be an indicator of health problems. People who have a low BMI may have:
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Dry skin
- Hair loss
- Nutrient deficiencies
- Poor immune system
- Irregular menstruation (in women)
Benefits Of A Normal BMI
Maintaining a normal BMI (18.5 to 24.9) has many benefits, including less risk for above mentioned health problems.
Not only are you less likely to have high blood pressure, heart disease or diabetes, but maintaining a normal BMI can also improve your sleep quality, circulation and give you more energy throughout the day.
BMI, however, is only one of the tools used to calculate health risk.
Other factors such as waist circumference, cholesterol levels, blood pressure, blood sugar levels, family history of heart disease, age, gender, level of physical activity, smoking, etc.
Limitations of BMI
Although BMI can be an important tool in determining if you have a healthy weight and therefore not at risk of obesity, it also has some limitations.
It is frequently discussed that the numbers given by the BMI formula are too broad and do not take into account a person’s age, gender, build, or ethnicity.
For instance, it may not be a reliable tool for athletes who are muscle-heavy or individuals who lost muscle.
In athletes, determining BMI is not an indicator of obesity because some athletes have a BMI above the limit value due to high muscle mass.
Also, older people have a lower bone density, so the results obtained by the BMI formula are unreliable.
For this reason, you might also want to look at other key measures such as waist circumference and risk factors.
Measuring your waist circumference is also necessary as it is also indicative of obesity.
Women should not have a waist circumference of over 35 inches while men should not go beyond 40 inches.
Lastly, it is important to be aware of the common diseases or health conditions associated with obesity.
These include high cholesterol levels, hypertension, high blood sugar, sedentary lifestyle and family history of heart problems.
On the other hand, BMI is very easy to measure and calculate and is therefore the most commonly used tool for assessing the risk of obesity.
Like many other measures, the BMI formula is not perfect because it depends only on height and weight and does not take into account age, level of physical activity, etc.
What to Keep in Mind
In case you have been found to be obese based on your BMI and waist circumference, you should consider losing weight.
Even a weight loss between 5% and 10% of your present weight can do wonders in decreasing the risk of developing obesity-related diseases.
You need to be vigilant about your body weight and make sure you are within normal limits. Such simple tracking or monitoring can actually spell the difference between life and death.