Use BMI Calculations the Right Way

Use BMI Calculations the Right Way

The term BMI has gotten an abundance of attention over the past few years, but do you really understand what it is? The Body Mass Index (BMI) is a statistical measure that is calculated from ones scaled weight and height. Government agencies, insurance companies, and doctors all use BMI to determine whether or not someone is to be classified underweight, overweight, or obese. However, BMI may not be as accurate as some allege. Knowledge of how the BMI is calculated and what health risks a high or low BMI introduces can help people make better choices about their health.


How is BMI Calculated?

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The Body Mass Index is generally believed to be the best way to establish if one is at a healthy weight. Using BMI is popular due to the fact it is simple, quick, and effective. It applies to adult women and men, as well as children. While it indirectly measure one’s body fat, it is more precise at approximating degree of body fatness than just weight. BMI allows the weight and height ratio to fall within ranges, which allow for different body types and shapes. For example, an individual can be 10 to 15 lbs heavier than someone the same height and still fall within a healthy weight range. If you would like to calculate your own BMI, the actual equation is (weight in pounds x 703)/(height in inches x height in inches). If numbers are not your thing, we have provided a quick scale below that you can read to understand your own BMI range.


How is BMI Used?

The model of BMI as a solitary numeric measurement of fatness or thinness relies solely on a calculation, which makes the corporate use of it very simple and widespread. Insurance companies, for example, use BMI as an indicator of health and it goes into their premium decisions. Numerous other companies and organizations use the BMI as an indicator of one’s health. This means that a person’s BMI is capable of affecting not only their health, but also how much they pay for particular services – or whether or not a person is even eligible for those services.

What are the Limitations of BMI Calculations?

BMI does have its limitations. Because it is not a measure of body fatness, muscular individuals often fall into the category of overweight when they are in fact not fat. In addition, BMI may identify individuals who have low muscle due to unhealthy practices into the healthy weight category. Also, using the BMI for very short people or pregnant women is inappropriate.

Waist Circumference Measurements as an Alternative to BMI

It is thought that excessive abdominal fat is more health threatening than thigh or hip fat. A woman with a waist circumference greater than 35 inches or a man with a waist circumference greater than 40 inches may be at an increased risk for developing high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. Because of this risk, the National Institute of Health (NIH) has asked physicians to measure patients’ waistlines to help identify risks.


obesity bmi scaleOverall understanding your BMI is just one component to measuring your health. Other factors such as waist circumference and nutrition play a part and should not be ignored. However if your BMI is too high or low, and other risk factors point to problems, you should take heed to increase your level of wellness.

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