When you’re wondering about whether or not your weight is in the “healthy” BMI range or even how accurate BMI is, there can be a ton of misinformation. In this article, you’ll learn how to accurately read your BMI results and why even though it is important to know, the results is not the be all and end all of good health.
To begin with, BMI stands for Body Mass Index and is a tool used to measure one’s body fast based on your height and weight for both adult men and women. There are many online calculators that can be found with a quick search on Google, such as the one on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. For children and teenagers, you can find a BMI calculator just for that age range also at the CDC’s website.
Once you have entered in your height and weight, it instantly calculates your results. Depending on what your height and weight are, your resulting number will put you into one of four categories: if you are less than 18.5, you are considered underweight. Normal weight range is from 18.5 to 24.9, while overweight results go from 25 to 29.9 and the obesity range is 30 and up.
BMI is supposed to be a tool used to gauge your risk for diseases that occur with more body fat; so the theory goes that the higher your BMI result is, the more you are at risk for certain diseases such as high blood pressure, heart disease, breathing problems, and Type 2 Diabetes.
However, BMI does have some limitations when calculating the risks: if you are an athlete or have a muscular build, it can overestimate your body fat and the same thing if one is older or anyone who has lost muscle for whatever reason: it will underestimate the body fat percentage. BMI also does not take into account age, gender, and muscle mass.
Due to these limitations of BMI, some experts feel that a better way to see if your weight is making you at risk of diseases is to measure your waist. To measure yourself, simple take a tape measure, stand up straight, and exhale as you wrap it around the middle section of your body just above your hipbones. If you are female and your waist circumference is greater than 35 inches and if you are male and your results are more than 40 inches, there’s a higher risk for heart diseases and Type 2 Diabetes as well. If you are still not sure, there’s a handy chart that combines BMI results and weight circumference to show whether or not you are in a high-risk categories.
While both waist circumference and BMI results are important, you have to remember that the location of the excess body fat should be taken into account as well. “Apple” shapes (people who gain weight in their abdominal regions) are at higher risk for health issues than those with “pear” shapes (people who gain weight in their thighs and buttocks) due to the fact that fat around your waist can do more damage to your health and is more “active” according to experts.
However, no matter what your results, you can always take positive steps to living a more healthy and active lifestyle: whether it’s taking up a new class at your gym or adjusting your eating habits, a little bit goes a long way in terms of making healthy changes!