Breaking Down BMI – Part I

Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control show that about 67 percent of Americans are overweight or obese according to National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, or NHANES, data.  Excess weight contributes to many preventable health problems resulting in increasing healthcare costs.  Given the prevalence of overweight and obese Americans, doctors and statisticians need measurement tools to assess health status and progress.  Enter BMI.  By now, we’ve all heard of this and you probably even calculated yours at some point!

So what does this BMI mean exactly and does it really tell the whole story?  BMI is used worldwide and provides a consistent way to compare and analyze health status across large and small populations. BMI stands for body mass index and, according to research, indicates possible risk for certain preventable diseases.  To calculate your BMI, take your weigh in kilograms and divide by your height in meters squared.  Although not a measurement of body fat, some research states the BMI closely correlates to body fat.

Blah blah blah… How does this measurement fit into your life?  Well, first understand we use this measurement because of the ease of use across many populations, genders and ages.  This does not even begin to tell the whole story.  How many of you know someone who maintains a healthy weight/BMI yet smokes and drinks?  How many of you know someone who appears to hold onto extra weight yet eats a healthy diet and exercises regularly?  How many skinny people suffer from increased blood pressure or experience a heart attack?  What if you decrease your body fat by 5lbs and simultaneously gain 5lbs of muscle?  You still maintain the exact same BMI.  Starting to understand the limitations of this measurement tool?

Tune in for Part II to learn more about BMI and other ways to measure success!

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