By guest blogger Cindy Hicks, dietetics student
BMI stands for Body Mass Index. It is a measure of relative weight to height, and it is a reliable indicator of fatness for most people. BMI is used to assess risk of disease and death. As BMI increases, so does a person’s health risk. A BMI of 25 to 29 indicates overweight; a BMI of 30 or more indicates obesity. People with BMI’s in these categories have been shown to be more likely to have chronic illnesses and/or early deaths.
To calculate your BMI, multiply your height in inches by itself. Then, divide your weight by this number. Lastly, multiply this number by 703. Or, find your numbers on the BMI chart below. There are also BMI calculators available online, or as free phone apps.
BMI is an indicator of total body mass, but does not distinguish between fat and muscle. Some people actually should not assess themselves with BMI. Athletes, and others, who have a high amount of muscle may have a high BMI, even though they do not have a high amount of body fat. Elderly people tend to lose muscle mass, which may cause the calculations to underestimate body fat.
Waist circumference is another measurement that is a reliable indicator of disease risk and health. Women, whose waist circumference is greater than 35 inches, and men, whose waist circumference is greater than 40 inches, have a higher risk for obesity-related health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
Although numbers like these are helpful to understand your health status, and risk for disease, they do not tell the whole story. Do you exercise regularly, at least 30-60 minutes 3-4 times a week? Do you eat a healthy diet, most of the time, that isn’t excessive in portions or calories? Do you smoke?-you need to quit! Do you effectively manage stress? Taking care of diet, exercise, stress, and not smoking can help you be healthier and live longer, no matter what your BMI and waist circumference numbers show.
So do not get caught up in a number! It does not define who you are. It is only a tool to be used, along with a healthy diet and fitness program, to help you be the best you can be.
Here is a link to the BMI table: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/obesity/bmi_tbl.htm