BMI TOOL UNDER CONSTRUCTION
Understanding Your Body Mass Index
BMI is an acronym for Body Mass Index. It’s important to understand what your BMI number means relative to your weight, health, and general lifestyle. Your BMI is calculated by first determining both your height and weight. It’s a somewhat reliable indicator of overall body fat for the majority of adults, with the elderly and athletes being two exceptions. BMI is a cheap alternative to directly measuring body fat, such as getting weighed underwater. However, it’s only one aspect of several factors that you and your doctor should use in assessing the status of your health.
How to Your Calculate Your BMI
Your BMI can be easily calculated using the following formula:
- Weight (pounds) / [Height (inches) x Height (inches)] x 703
Or, you can simply use the Desk Fitness BMI calculator above.
The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) utilizes BMI to define such terms as overweight and obesity:
- Obese: 30 or higher
- Overweight: 25 – 29.9
- Normal weight: 18. 5 – 24.9
- Underweight: below 18.5
What Your BMI Means to Your Health
Individuals with either very high or very low BMIs have the greatest potential for health risks. Nevertheless, BMI is just one aspect of your overall health. For instance, regardless if your BMI is in the normal category, you still have a greater risk of certain health problems if you engage in the following:
- Smoke cigarettes
- Drink excessive alcohol
- Consume large amounts of junk food including fat and sugar
- Lead a very sedentary lifestyle with little to no exercise
On the other hand, if your BMI falls into the overweight category, your health risks are lower if you:
- Exercise regularly
- Maintain normal cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure levels
Why You Shouldn’t Use Your BMI Exclusively to Measure Your Overall Health
BMI is a calculation that’s only based on two factors: your weight and height, which is one way to conveniently categorize the mass population. However, BMI only understands what you weigh. It doesn’t consider your level of activity, your muscle vs body fat, and a host of other contributing factors that determine your general health.
The bottom line is that BMI is a helpful tool to measure overall health when used in conjunction with several other factors including diet, exercise, blood profile, and family history in terms of genetic diseases.
A much simpler, more accurate health predictor is to measure the circumference of your waist. Simply measure the entire distance around your waist starting at the top of your hips. For women, an unhealthy number is 35 inches or more, and more than 40 inches for men. Again, this information is “relative” to everything else. While this too isn’t a clear cut analysis of where you should ideally be in terms of health, it’s somewhat more accurate than just using your BMI alone.