BMI: An Outdated Concept? Are the Numbers a True Reflection of Health?


If you have ever gone for a full physical at your doctor, you would have been subjected to the dreaded BMI (Body Mass Index) measurement. What does it mean? And has the concept of BMI become outdated?

What is Your Body Mass Index?

Simply put, your BMI is a calculation of your height and weight to determine whether you are underweight, normal weight or overweight, converted to metric units for the calculation. The higher the BMI reading, the more likely you are to suffer from health issues. A BMI of over 30 indicates that you are obese and at risk of a whole range of health issues including heart attacks, diabetes, and certain cancers.

The Problems with the Math

The main problem with the numbers is that they calculate all tissue (muscle, fat, and bone) and not just fat and sometimes misses more than half of people with excess fat.

Also, not all fats are the same. Carrying more fat in your tummy area puts you at greater risk of disease, as opposed to fat on your legs or buttocks which is less dangerous. If a doctor just looks at the numbers, he/she might not give a true reflection of a person’s health.

Alternative Ways of Determining Body Fat

There are numerous other ways of determining your body fat. One of the simplest is the skinfold caliper test that measures fat on 3 or 7 sites. A trained technician can easily do this.

Another method to determine your actual body fat is underwater weighing. Because muscle is denser than fat, your body density in water can tell physicians a lot more about your general body composition.

When It Comes to Weight, One Size Does Not Fit All

BMI calculations do not always reflect the actual state of a person’s health. For a full overview, your body mass should be used in addition to other tools.

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