BMI: A quality indicator of health?

Body Mass Index (BMI) is something that all health and wellness fields have used over the years. It's a measure of body fat based on your height and weight. Click here to get your number and see where you stand on the chart. We'll go over what this method is best used as and if it's really an accurate indicator for peoples level of health. Spoiler- it's NOT. Like many other methods in health and wellness the results are not end all be all.

Here are the placements for your BMI Calculator results:

Underweight BMI Under 18.5

"Normal" BMI is 18.5-25

Overweight BMI is 25-30

Obese BMI is over 30

I don't think they really use it anymore but there was an old fashioned chart that you'd slide your fingers up and down for your weight and left and right at the top for your age. Similar to navigating a map. Once you got your correct numbers you'd slide your fingers to meet results from your selection.

Initially this was a method used by insurance companies to give you rates. How your health and body was for longevity. That doesn't seem like a proper method for the every day person who may be trying to get their health in order.

So, here we go. How accurate is BMI on indicating our level of health? As with most measures BMI isn't the perfect test. Lets take my body for example. I have a higher muscle mass for my size (circumstances like being a child, greater muscle mass, pregnancy, skewed ranges of h can throw the numbers off) so results are going to be skewed for myself. At 5ft 7 in and 170 lbs. my BMI is at 26.6. That puts me in the overweight category- but we know that the result is thrown off because I'm heavier than someone my size who doesn't have as much muscle mass as me. Someone with high visceral fat (stomach fat), same weight and height as me with the 26.6 would be more of a concern right? Not so fast. Yes, people who are overweight/obese may be more susceptible to health risks but there have been studies recently on people who are metabolically healthy obese candidates. This means that they are overweight or obese but there is little to no evidence of metabolic dysfunction- Low liver and visceral fat content, insulin levels functioning properly and great cardiovascular health.

What is BMI good for?

When it comes down to it, I'm not really sure to be honest. I suppose if you take all outside circumstances into consideration (extra muscle, pregnancy, weight loss/elderly) then the results can prove to be accurate. However, that doesn't seem to be the way folks are using it. Instead, using the final number to dictate their level of health without any sort of true knowledge on if it's accurate.

What you SHOULD do with your BMI result:

Throw them out the window I guess! On a serious note- If you have an unusual number that seems high and may concern you, remember that the number doesn't factor in all your circumstances. Go to your primary physician and ask questions. Never hesitate to ask questions so you can learn more about your health status and how to take care of yourself.

The American Cancer Association said:

"For most adults, the BMI is a good way to get an idea of healthy weight ranges. But it’s not always the final word in deciding if a person is overweight or obese. There are other things to think about when judging how much someone should weigh. A person with a high BMI should be evaluated by a health care provider, who might use other factors such as skinfold thickness (a measure of body fat), waist size, evaluations of diet and family health problems, and other factors to find out if a person’s weight might pose a health risk."

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