Is your BMI really a good measure of your health
There is growing concern that BMI, or body mass index, may not be the most accurate measure of health.
BMI is calculated by taking a person's weight in kilograms and dividing it by the square of their height in meters.
A normal BMI is considered to be between 18.5-24.9 kg/m2 and a BMI of 25 or higher is considered overweight.
Studies have shown that people with a high BMI do not necessarily have a higher risk of developing health problems than people with a lower BMI. On the other hand, many people with low BMIs are actually at risk of some health problems. For example, studies have shown that thin people who exercise regularly have a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some types of cancer than people who are overweight or obese.
Instead of using a BMI as a marker of overall health, health professionals are beginning to use waist size as an alternative indicator of risk. Waist circumference is the measurement of the width of your torso just above your hip bones. Research has shown that a high waist circumference is a more reliable indicator of heart disease risk than a high BMI. The recommended waist measurement for men is less than 94 cm (37 inches) and for women less than 80 cm (31 inches). It is important to remember, however, that both BMI and waist circumference are measures of body fat and not indicators of disease risk in themselves. Calculating both these values provides a more detailed picture of your overall health status than simply relying on a single number.
Some people are concerned about weight gain and excess body fat even though their BMI is in the healthy range. It is important to remember that being overweight does not mean that you are unhealthy. It is a known fact that obesity increases the risk of some diseases and conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure. However, people who have a normal body weight can still be at risk of developing serious health problems such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol if they consume too many calories and do not exercise enough. In general, it is better to be a healthy weight rather than to be overweight. Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight can improve your overall health and reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases later in life.
People who have a normal weight but still worry about their weight should speak to their doctor or dietitian for advice. They may be able to set reasonable targets and goals to help them achieve a healthier lifestyle. They may also need to evaluate their diet to see if there are some lifestyle changes they can make to improve their health without trying to lose weight. For example, they can try to reduce the amount of sugary foods and drinks they consume and replace them with healthier options such as fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, low-fat dairy products, nuts and seeds. Alternatively, they could increase the amount of physical activity they do each day by walking to work, taking the stairs instead of the elevator and getting off the bus a few stops early on their commute home. These changes can also help them lose some weight without feeling too restricted in their food choices.
People who are overweight or obese should also be concerned about their health and take steps to reduce their weight if they are at risk of becoming ill. For most people, this will mean making long-term lifestyle changes that incorporate a healthier diet and increased physical activity into their daily routines. For many people, losing weight requires dedication and motivation, but it can be worth the effort to achieve a better quality of life.