For an easy and quick way to tell if you’re at a healthy weight, you can calculate your body mass index (BMI). Knowing and understanding your number on a BMI chart may be crucial to understanding your health.
What is BMI and how do you interpret it?
BMI or “body mass index,” is a number that determines your body mass based on your height and weight. You can either fall within the ‘golden area’ of a healthy BMI, a larger number indicates you are overweight, while if the number is below a certain value, you are underweight.
When you’ve calculated your BMI number—how do you interpret it?
Firstly you can use the BMI chart below. Find your height and weight and see which number corresponds to them. The number on the BMI chart is your actual body mass index, and the color of the box indicates whether your BMI places you in the under, over or normal weight range.
A BMI between 18.5 and 25 is considered healthy; a number under 18.5 is underweight while anything above 25 is considered overweight. Obesity is a value of 30 or more, and a value of 40 or higher indicates morbid obesity .
The BMI chart can be useful for most people over the age of 18. However, it might not be accurate for everyone, especially for those with a more muscular build. Having lots of muscles may put you in the overweight category on the BMI chart despite having little body fat. However, this is an exception. In addition to the BMI chart, your waist circumference can tell you more about your health.
How is the BMI Chart useful?
Having a BMI that is too high or too low can both be associated with health problems. Using a BMI Chart can help you determine of where your health stands with regard to weight-related problems. Having a very low weight increases the risk of having nutritional deficiencies, muscle loss, and other problems. On the other hand, being obese carries an increased risk for a myriad of health conditions. Some issues are diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol, arthritis, cancer, sleep apnea, gallbladder dysfunction and heart disease.
What Can’t a BMI Chart Tell You?
A very high or low BMI are obvious indicators for the risk of developing health issues. However, for a person who falls in the middle of the spectrum assessing their health with the use of a BMI chart can be a bit more confusing.
As mentioned, BMI cannot factor in your body fat percentage. This can lead to someone having a BMI that places them in the overweight category despite actually being in better health and with a lower body fat percentage when compared to someone with a lower BMI number in the “healthy” range even if that person is in worse shape.
In addition to this, the BMI chart doesn’t include age, gender, or muscle mass which are important parameters pertaining to your health. It cannot tell the difference between lean body mass and fat mass. Also, elderly people may have a BMI that appears normal even though muscle has been lost with aging.
A BMI chart also does not take into account where your fat is located. People gain weight in different regions of their bodies. For some with an “apple body shape” the weight gathers in the abdominal region, while in others the excess weight is around the hips and buttocks causing a ”pear-shaped” body. People with apple shapes have a higher risk of developing weight related health problems. Another thing a BMI chart cannot tell is whether you have visceral fat, which is connected to an increased risk of a heart attack.
Furthermore, your BMI doesn’t consider race or sex based differences which are connected to what your healthy body size and weight may be.
Additionally, a formerly obese person who has lost weight quickly may now have a BMI value that fits the “healthy” range, but still be at risk for developing obesity-related illnesses.
BMI –a conclusion?
Your number on a BMI chart can give you an approximate idea of how your weight relates to your health. However, it cannot predict your future. While it’s important to know where your body mass stands, this chart is just one tool. It shows a limited amount of information about your health. So, while it can and should be used as a general guide to weight health, a BMI chart cannot be taken as the ultimate authority on your health.