What is your BMI, do you know? Do you know why it relates to your health? Don’t worry, you aren’t the only one, many people are confused by
BMI or Body Mass Index. Simply, BMI measures whether you are a healthy weight for your height.
The BMI tries to equate the amount of tissue mass (muscle, fat and bone) for an individual and then put that person in one of 5
categories. Severely underweight, underweight, normal, overweight and obese. Although there is some debate where the BMI dividing lines should be for these
categories the accepted BMI ranges are severely underweight: under 16.0, underweight: under 18.5, normal: 18.5-25, overweight: 25-30 and obese@ over 30.
The BMI calculation has received some criticism in using it to define obesity in individuals. BMI was designed to study a population rather
than individual people and in recent years body fat percentage (BFP) has shown to be a more reliable indicator for obesity. For example, very lean, muscly
people would be classified in the obese category using BMI but are classified as having a normal weight using BFP.
A person’s BMI can help predict or estimate the risk factors for health concerns by providing a simplistic measure of a person’s thickness
or thinness, which allows doctors to discuss weight issues more comprehensively, flagging up potential health risks and dangers. If you find
your BMI weight is in the obese category you are at increased risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, hypertension, dyslipidemia, gallbladder disease, sleep
apnea, arthritis and of course cancer. Most of these are avoidable by maintaining a healthy BMI and by eating a varied and healthy diet.
This is the equation used to calculate your BMI:
The internet is full of BMI calculators these days so if maths isn’t your strong point then fear not, there are websites and apps that
work it out for you. All you need to do is enter your height in feet, weight in pounds and click calculate BMI. Easy. Alternatively you could use a BMI chart like this one to calculate your BMI.
Certain ethnic groups are at risk of certain health problems at a lower BMI than others. For example South Asian and Chinese people have a
higher risk of type 2 diabetes than white populations and are advised to keep their BMI below the standard 25. Although the evidence for black ethnic groups
isn’t clear, they are also advised to keep their BMI below 25 to reduce their risk of type 2 diabetes.