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What is BMI and How Does It Apply To Me?

Everyone is talking about BMI, so here is our breakdown of why it is important and how it applies to you.  BMI is short for body mass index and has been used as a medical standard in determining whether patients are underweight or overweight.  The use of this was to help medical professionals determine whether individuals are overweight or clinically obese in order to identify the risk of developing common diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.  

A major drawback to using BMI as as a standard to identify obesity and overweight status is that the BMI calculation lacks analysis of lean tissue as opposed to fat tissue.  So is BMI even accurate?  Yes, medical doctors still rely on the body mass index to to access one's risk for serious diseases, and you can too, just follow the steps below:

  1. Take your height and convert it to inches
  2. Multiply your height in inches with itself
  3. Divide your weight in pounds (lbs) by the number derived from Step 2
  4. Multiply the number derived from Step 3 by 705
  5. This is your BMI

Upon deriving a number from the steps above, compare yourself to the guidelines below issued by the National Institute of Health (NIH):

  • BMI of 19 or below = Underweight
  • BMI between 19 - 24.9 = Healthy Weight Range
  • BMI between 25 - 29.9 = Overweight
  • BMI of 30 or greater = Obese

As a general rule of thumb, individuals who have a BMI of over 25 are considered to have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and stroke.  But as we mentioned above, this is just based off a general guideline set by the NIH.  So what's the controversy?  Simply stated, aside from not being able to take into account of fat distribution, it also fails to calibrate to individual differences in age, gender, and race.  The physical composition of human beings from different geographical locations produces a wide range of weights and heights for "healthy" individuals.  

So why should I even care about my BMI?  Although this topic is widely debated, we still use BMI because it is a simple and reasonable measure of ones body fat for the average individual.  Being able to gauge a general understanding of your health against the widely used BMI chart can help you identify whether you need to make any lifestyle changes in order to reduce your risk of diseases relating to obesity.  Knowing your body is always the first step to changing your body and bettering your overall health for a happier life.






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