You may have heard about BMI as a measure of health, but what is the actual meaning of “BMI” and what does it mean to your health? This acronym stands for “body mass index” and is a common way for healthcare and weight-loss professionals to quickly determine if someone is within a healthy weight range.
BMI is also a helpful calculator for individuals concerned about their weight. Keep reading to find out how to calculate your BMI, what your number means whether or not you should be worried about it.
The body mass index (BMI) ratio is a reliable way to determine if someone has excess body fat for their height. It accounts for the fact that taller people have more tissue, so they tend to weigh more than shorter people. The actual formula is: weight (lb.) / [height (in)]2 x 703. Try this online calculator from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute to find your number and see where you fall on the chart:
Is BMI Accurate?
This calculation isn’t a direct measure of body fat, but the results are rather precise when compared with more high-tech measurement techniques. You could go through a skinfold thickness measurement, underwater weighing or even a dual energy x-ray absorptiometry to get an actual assessment of your body fat, but the results would be very similar to the simple exercise above.
Because muscle weighs more than fat, some very muscular people may have a BMI over 25 even though they have very little body fat. But unless you’re a professional athlete, your BMI calculation is probably very accurate.
Why is BMI Important?
A high or low BMI can be an indication of larger health issues. A BMI under 18 may indicate a poor diet or an adverse reaction to medications, while a BMI over 25 is associated with increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. If your BMI falls outside the range of a healthy weight, you should consider discussing it with your doctor or enroll in a weight-loss regimen.
Many studies have revealed a direct correlation between a high BMI and chronic health conditions. For example, a Nurses’ Health Study showed that middle-aged women and men who gained 11 to 22 pounds after age 20 were up to three times more likely to develop heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and gallstones than those who gained five pounds or fewer. The risk of developing those diseases also increases exponentially for people who gained more than 22 pounds. The same study found a link between adult weight gain in women and the risk of postmenopausal breast cancer.
Don’t let your BMI number negatively affect your health. If you’re concerned your BMI may be outside the range considered “healthy” you may want to discuss it with your physician. He or she may advise you to consider a weight-loss program. Enrolling in the SlimGenics Weight-Loss Program, it could help you start on the right path to a healthier tomorrow.