BMI is short for body mass index, but it is almost always referred to simply as BMI. It is an estimate of how much body fat a person has, calculated by dividing a person’s weight in kilograms by their height in meters squared.
Don’t be intimidated by the calculations. There are many online calculators that generate your BMI when you enter your data. The resulting number can help you determine if you are at a healthy weight.
Here’s what that number means:
Under 18.5 = underweight
18.5 to 24.9 = normal weight
25 to 29.9 = overweight
30 or more = obesity
BMI has long been a popular tool for measuring body fat because it’s easy to use and doesn’t require fancy equipment to calculate it. However, this simplicity has a drawback: it sometimes gives an overly simplified picture of your health (we will come back to this).
How does BMI differ between men, women and other groups of people?
The BMI formula is universal. It is the same for adults and children (although the numbers are interpreted differently for young people, as gender and age are taken into account). In adults, BMI is interpreted the same way for men and women.
However, there are a few differences between certain demographic groups when it comes to body fat:
Women generally have more body fat than men. Women should aim for a body fat percentage of 20-21%, while men should be between 13-17%.
Older people generally have more body fat than younger people.
Athletes generally have less than non-athletes.
BMI tends to cause problems in older people. According to one study, BMI isn’t as useful in older people because it doesn’t take into account that many people get smaller as they age, which can cause fat levels to be underestimated. BMI may also underestimate adiposity in older people because, with age, fat mass usually replaces fat-free mass (muscle). So even if an older person has a normal BMI, they may have a high body fat percentage. Researchers then speak of “normal weight obesity”, which increases the risk of metabolic syndrome and various cardiovascular problems.
These discrepancies have led some researchers to suggest that BMI goals should be different for older people. A meta-analysis investigated the relationship between BMI and risk of death in people aged 65 and over and found that the lowest risk of death was in people with a BMI around 27, 5, which corresponds to overweight. The study showed that in older people, a BMI between 22 and 23 actually increased the risk of death, even if it was within the normal range.
Why is a healthy BMI important for your overall health?
Is BMI just another number to watch? This is not quite the case. It can be useful to know if your weight is in a healthy range and, if your BMI is outside the normal range, it tells you when you are at risk of various health problems.
A BMI of 30 or more, for example, means you are obese, which can lead to:
high blood pressure
Type 2 diabetes
A high BMI comes with many worrisome issues. When your BMI increases, you begin to develop body fat issues. You start having joint issues, sleep apnea, acid reflux, those kinds of issues that are directly related to fat.
Being underweight (with a BMI of less than 18.5) presents its own set of challenges. A study has shown that it can help increase the risk of death, although these deaths are more likely to result from unnatural causes (such as accidents or suicides) than from cancer, cardiovascular disease or respiratory disease. This can be explained by the fact that people who are underweight are at an increased risk of injury and that once injured, they generally have a harder time recovering.
What are the shortcomings of BMI measurement in adults?
BMI is not a perfect measurement and should only be used as a preliminary tool to determine if you are at a healthy weight. The problem with BMI is that it says nothing about the composition and distribution of body fat, or the metabolic consequences. It’s simply weight versus height.
Athletes, for example, may be incredibly muscular, but their BMI may qualify them as obese because muscle is denser than fat.
So don’t panic if your BMI tells you you’re overweight or obese, but rather take it as a clue that it’s time to see a doctor for further examination. BMI was designed to screen large numbers of people, but it takes more than just BMI to know for sure if there is cause for concern.
To take it a step further, measure your waist circumference as another way to estimate your risk of developing weight-related health problems, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and coronary heart disease. To measure your waistline, place a tape measure just above your hip bones. The tape should be snug, but not too tight, and the measurement should be taken right after exhalation. A circumference greater than 89 cm for women and 110 cm for men indicates that you are in poor health.
Why is BMI an imperfect measure?
Some researchers advocate going further and measuring the waist-hip ratio. A study of more than 15,000 adults found that normal-weight central obesity, as determined by waist-to-hip ratio, was linked to higher death rates than obesity defined by BMI.
How to reach a healthy weight in case of overweight or obesity?
Going from a high BMI to a lower, healthier number can seem daunting. But losing just 5-10% of your body weight has been shown to counter negative side effects and improve blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and blood sugar, even if you’re still in the category of obese people after weight loss.
It’s hard to say exactly how to achieve a healthy weight because there is no single answer. The best way to get personalized recommendations is to consult a dietitian or doctor.
You can start lowering your BMI by adopting these five healthy habits.
1. Eat regularly
Get into the habit of eating every two or three hours. At every meal, include a palm-sized amount of protein, whether it’s chicken, fish, beef, or tofu. Eat them with a fist-sized serving of carbs, such as fruit, quinoa, brown rice, or whole-wheat bread. For a balanced meal, you should also eat at least four servings of fruits and vegetables a day, and fats should come from healthy sources like olive oil and vegetable oil. Following this approach can promote a healthy weight.
2. Stick to water
When trying to lose weight, and for health reasons, it is best to avoid beverages with added sugars with meals.
3. Start the day strong
To lose weight, start the day with a breakfast high in protein and fiber. The high protein content of Greek yogurt, for example, stabilizes blood sugar levels to stave off cravings later in the day, and the fiber of a diced apple will keep you full longer. Starting the day on a healthy note can also set the tone for the day.
4. Count your calories
Losing 0.5-1kg per week has been shown to be the most sustainable rate. One way to do this is to reduce your daily calorie intake by 500 to 1,000 calories.
5. Get moving!
Don’t overlook the role of exercise in weight loss. Consult a personal trainer to establish a plan that suits your goals.
Gain weight the healthy way
If you’re underweight and looking to increase your BMI, consider creative and healthy ways to increase your daily calorie intake. you have to take in extra calories without upsetting your diet.
Appropriate physical activity can also help increase your BMI. Consult with a personal trainer to determine the exercise program that is best for you.
Whether you’re looking to lose or gain weight, achieving a healthy weight (and a healthy BMI) not only reduces your risk of many diseases, but has been shown to boost self-confidence. self, energy level and overall mood. It’s a win all the way.