What Your BMI Doesn't Tell You

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  • By Medteam Weight Loss
What Your BMI Doesn't Tell You

Body mass index (BMI) has been used as the standard for recording obesity statistics since the early 1980s.  Further, this method has been used consistently in most clinical and behavioral studies and is the key measure to assess weight loss programs.

Body mass index (BMI) has been used as the standard for recording obesity statistics since the early 1980s.  Further, this method has been used consistently in most clinical and behavioral studies and is the key measure to assess weight loss programs.

 

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Center for Health Statistics, two-thirds of the United States is overweight, and one-third is obese. Obesity is a prevalent public health problem in the United States and has been surging in the past 20 years. Excess body fat can lead to many different co-morbidities and chronic diseases.

 

In general, when classifying your BMI, that of 25 or greater puts one at risk for chronic diseases such as overweight/obesity and related disorders, hypertension (high blood pressure), type 2 diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, cardiovascular diseases, and some types of cancer.

 

BMI can be calculated quickly and without expensive equipment.  Using a simple formula (BMI = Weight (lbs.) x 703 divided by Height (inches) x Height (inches), you can calculate your BMI. However, BMI does not take into account many factors such as frame size and muscularity.  BMI also fails to account for varying proportions of fat bone, cartilage, water weight and more.

 

The medical community has acknowledged some major shortcomings of BMI.  Because the BMI formula depends only upon weight and height, its assumptions about the distribution between lean mass and fat tissue are not always exact.  BMI sometimes overestimates fat on those with more lean body mass (e.g., athletes) while greatly underestimating excess fat on those with less lean body mass.

 

Sources: 1. Obstetrics & Gynecology: May 2010 - Volume 115 - Issue 5 - pp 982-988, "Accuracy of Current Body Mass Index Obesity Classification for White, Black, and Hispanic Reproductive-Age Women" by Rahman, Mahbubur MD, PhD; Berenson, Abbey B. MD, MM

 

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