An Understanding of BMI

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BMI (body mass index) is one of those terms most people have heard of at one point or another. Yet it may not be something you fully understand in terms of what it can indicate about your health. In a nutshell, BMI is a mathematical calculation of how much body fat you have based on a calculation that includes your height and weight. Here’s what you need to know about BMI to better understand what your results mean.

Simple Body Fat Determination

There are several ways to obtain an accurate determination of your body mass. For instance, underwater weighing uses displacement of water to determine body mass. While hydrostatic testing is a reliable method for determining body mass, it’s not something most people can do as easily as using a simple BMI calculation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides the following interpretation of BMI results:

  • Below 18.5 = below weight
  • From 18.5 to 24.9 = normal weight
  • From 25.0 to 29.9 = overweight
  • 30.0 or higher = obese

BMI Combined with Other Health Indicators

BMI isn’t the only factor that matters when determining your overall well-being. It’s possible to be within a normal weight range and still have health issues due to poor nutritional choices and unhealthy habits such as smoking or a lack of regular exercise. It’s just as possible to be fairly healthy while still having a high BMI due to issues with metabolism or an inability to see results from diet and exercise efforts alone. It’s also possible to have a higher BMI and still be at a lower risk of major health issues if you have normal blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels.

Using BMI as an Incentive to Improve Your Health

If you do have a high BMI, it can serve as an incentive to take positive steps to improve your overall health. It’s a goal that can be achieved by following basic dietary guidelines and making an effort to find forms of exercise that match your abilities.

Body mass index is a usually a fairly reliable indicator for how much body fat you are carrying on your frame. If you do have a BMI far above what’s considered normal, you may be a candidate for weight loss surgery. Generally, a BMI of 30 or more is necessary to be considered for surgical weight reduction. Even if you don’t have a high amount of body fat, it’s still important to keep track of your BMI so you can make well-informed decisions about your health needs.