What Is The Body Mass Index (BMI)?
If you are trying to be healthy and/or lose weight, one term you will hear at some point or another is "Body Mass Index",
or BMI. You understand that it seems to be important, but are not sure what it
is, what it means, or why you should be concerned about it. In this small article, we are going to try to shed a little light on
the following questions:
1. What is Body Mass Index?
2. How is it calculated?
3. What does it mean?
Your body mass index is a simple method of measuring your body fat using height and weight measurements.
The reason for looking at this ratio is that weight alone is
not a reasonable measure of fat or health.
For years, men and women have been looking at height/weight tables and
been told that if they were a certain height and weighed a
certain weight than they were "overweight" and, by implication, perhaps
in some sort of personal potential health crisis. However,
the BMI calculation is what allows an individual or health care
provider a means of making a quick assessment of potential health risks.
CALCULATING YOUR BMI
Calculating your Body Mass Index is actually a relatively simple
process. You can calculate your BMI yourself, but you
are likely to get a more precise measurement of your health
risks if you have it, and other measurements and tests, done by your doctor or
at a facility which has the necessary equipment and professionally trained personnel.
To calculate your BMI based simply on height and weight, divide your
weight in pounds by your height in inches squared and multiply that answer by
703. If you are using the metric system, the weight will be
in kilograms, and the height will be measured in meters. The
equation is exactly the same (remember to square your height), but
there is no need to multiply by 703.
NOTE: While BMI is a quick method of assessing your
present condition and potential health risks, the results still only
involve height and weight and do not
take other factors into account. For example: A muscular,
highly trained athlete in excellent health, i.e. someone like Arnold
Schwarzenegger in his prime, would seem to be overweight.
As you can see, calculating a person's BMI is simple and it immediately
gives a healthcare professional an idea of the individual's potential health
risks relevant to the fat on their body. However, there are
still other factors which should be assessed as well. The athlete
mentioned above might have a very small waist, and indeed, we find that
the circumference of the waist should also be taken in addition to the BMI
It is also possible to take some fairly
specific fat measurements using calipers and other
instruments, as they did when I was in the army.
Also, the BMI calculation should be viewed in the
context of the individual's health history, life style, age, sex,
smoking, drinking, and other factors. That is why having
these measurements done by trained professionals is important.
For the moment, however, let's just look at our Body Mass Index measurements and see what they mean.
**A BMI of 18.5 is considered as being Underweight.
**A BMI range of 18.5 - 24.9 is considered normal.
**A BMI range of 25.0 - 29.9 is defined as overweight.
**A BMI of 30.0 and above is categorized as obese.
While a bit too complicated to reproduce in a short article such as
this, and which may be
published on many different sites, there are charts available online
which will allow you to add such other measurements as waist circumference
the Body Mass Index calculation in order to get a slightly more
accurate assessment of health risk due to being overweight or
obese. A rule of thumb however, is that for men, a waist
circumference of more than 40 inches raises the health risk.
For women, a waist circumference of more than 35 inches also raises the
So, what does a high BMI mean in terms of potential health risks?
While there is no guarantee that obesity, or an overweight condition,
any one individual will definitely
result in any specific conditions, it
has been shown statistically that there is definitely a correlation
overweight or obese, and the likelihood of incurring one or more of
these conditions as a direct or indirect result:
The good news is, that should you find yourself in one of
those categories defined as
overweight or obese, other research has shown that a weight loss of
just 10% of your current weight
will have a definite impact on the health risks you face.
- High blood pressure,
- High cholesterol
- Type II diabetes
- Heart Disease
- Some forms of cancer
ABOUT CONTROLLING BMI
The best way to control your weight and minimize health risks due to
obesity or being overweight is through regular moderate exercise
making wise nutritional choices. Additionally, a lifestyle
which does include regular exercise, as well as healthy eating choices,
other positive health changes in addition to the weight loss
itself. Fad diets do not work for permanent healthy weight
loss, and diet pills and potions are at best ineffective and can
actually be dangerous in some cases. Some diet regimens may
actually result in increased weight and a higher BMI in the long run.
In order to permanently improve your health outlook, take a look at
your BMI and
use it as a tool to remind you of the lifestyle choices you need to
make in order to live a
longer and healthier life.
Donovan Baldwin is a
68-year-old amateur bodybuilder and freelance writer living in the
Dallas - Fort Worth, Texas area. He is a University of West
Florida alumnus, has been a member of Mensa and the National Society of
Newspaper Columnists, and is retired from the U. S. Army after 21 years
of service. In his career, he has held many managerial and
supervisory positions. However, his main pleasures have long
been writing, nature, health, and fitness. In the last few
years, he has been able to combine these pleasures by writing poetry
and articles on subjects such as health, fitness, yoga, weightlifting, weight loss, the
environment, global warming, happiness, self improvement, life and the
arts. He blogs regularly on senior
fitness and health at fitness-after-40.ws.
Article Source: What's Your Body Mass Index? What Does It Mean?
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