Understanding BMI: Knowing What Works and What Doesn’t

BMI, calculator

Almost everyone is familiar with the term BMI and what it means. This elusive term stands for Body Mass Index, and it’s used to measure the amount of body fat in an individual based on their weight and height.

You’re probably familiar with BMI for a number of different reasons. Maybe you’ve measured it on your own for weight management purposes, or you’ve reported it on a healthcare form, medical clearance report or physical. On its own, BMI is a standard tool for assessing your health and coming to learn more about your body. But is it the only tool?

BMI – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

The answer is no! It’s not the only tool for assessing and managing your weight. In fact, BMI is flawed in many respects because if often creates confusion and distortion.

Let’s start with the good….

But first, let’s talk about what it does do for our weight and health. To start, it’s a pretty easy tool to use. Anyone can whip out a scale and tape measure and do some basic math. Nowadays, online apps and web sites have built-in calculators to do the work for us. Calculating BMI is as easy as 1, 2, 3!

Additionally, BMI also provides a set of ranges to show where an individual falls relative to the general population. If your BMI is more than 30, you are categorized as having obesity. If it’s under 25, you’re considered to be in normal range. For some, this information may be helpful if you’re trying to get a very general idea of your health status.

Now, let’s look at the bad. 

On the flip side of the coin, BMI is a flawed measure of health because at its core, it’s just a simple ratio. Because it’s so simple, it doesn’t account for factors such as body frame or body composition.

For example, let’s compare two people who are both 5’7 and weigh 200 pounds. One person may have a ton of muscle gained from consistent exercise and healthy eating, while the other person may have more fat tissue than muscle tissue. Both individuals have the same BMI. However, the second individual is more at risk for weight-related conditions.

It’s pretty safe to say that this limited tool doesn’t tell us at all what an individual’s body is made up of. Therefore, it’s not a clear indicator of an individual’s health. So, if we can’t rely solely on BMI, what can we rely on?

Identifying Other Alternatives

Rather than rely strictly on this limited tool, we might consider the following measures:

  • Body Fat Percentage
  • Weight to Height Ratio
  • Waist to Hip Ratio
  • Waist Circumference

While not perfect, all of the above calculations offer a little more insight into an individual’s health status in relation to their weight.

Looking for More Information about BMI and beyond?

To read the full article from Your Weight Matters Magazine, please CLICK HERE.