Body Mass Index or BMI is a value which we calculate by dividing our body mass by our height squared. This is something doctors, dieticians, nutritionists and the health community as a whole uses to determine our general health.
This BMI chart determines whether or not you are either underweight, normal weight, overweight or obese based on these numbers. This formula and chart was first developed to give people a general idea to whether or not they need to lose weight.
The BMI scale is a great tool to give us a quick insight to whether or not we should lose a few pounds, however there are some things you need to know about the BMI index, and how it could potentially give you misleading information.
You still see this chart hanging in doctor’s offices in pretty much every practice, because it can give us a good idea of how susceptible we are to other diseases like diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, etc. These diseases are linked with being overweight and obese, so the BMI chart can be useful in that regard.
The problem with the BMI index is that it can be inaccurate in some cases because it is a general tool, and doesn’t take things like muscle mass into consideration when determining whether or not someone is obese.
Three Potential Issues with the BMI Scale:
May Give False Impressions to Athletes and Weight Lifters
If you are someone who lifts weights regularly, plays sports or are someone who just has more muscle mass because of genetics, the BMI scale may not be the best tool to determine whether or not you are obese or overweight.
As mentioned earlier, the BMI scale is based on your height versus your bodyfat. It doesn’t take things like muscle mass and bones mass, and on average an athlete is going to have more of both than your everyday person.
Another thing to consider when looking at your body fat and how it affects your overall health is where exactly the fat is located. Fat located around the stomach, or visceral fat which accumulates around our organs is much more cause for concern then just having too much body fat period.
In a similar vein, BMI doesn’t take in to account the body type of the person, where some people just have a bigger frame than others. These people have more bodyweight than others because of that additional bone mass. This can throw off the BMI scale for these people, which may indicate that they are overweight when they are in fact of healthy weight.
Could Potentially Give Inaccurate Readings to the Elderly and Aging
One thing that happens to everyone as we age is the loss of bone mass and muscle tissue. We do our best to minimize this by keeping active through exercise, however the loss of some muscle and bone as we get older is inevitable.
This loss of muscle and bone tissues are something to consider when using the BMI scale to determine whether or not an elderly person is of healthy weight. Many elderly people who have too much body fat still score in the healthy range on the BMI scale due to their reduced overweight because of the muscle and bone loss.
There are other tools and instruments out there which can give you a better idea of what your body fat actually is, from high tech scales and gadgets, to low tech measuring tape.
The Health Risks Aren’t the Same for Everyone Based on the BMI Scale
What we mean by this is that just because you are overweight on the BMI scale, doesn’t necessarily mean you are at risk for developing more diseases than those that fall in the healthy ranges. This is not to say that if you are obese you aren’t at risk for these diseases, as this just applies to those who fall slightly in the overweight range.
If you happen to be one of these people who falls in this range and are uncertain about how healthy your overall health is, again you want to look at where that fat is distributed.
If you have a little extra body fat but still are maintaining a good waistline, you shouldn’t be concerned. On the other hand if you are generally of average build but have a big belly, you are going to want to make some changes to reduce your body fat to improve your health.