Body mass index, or BMI, is a common health screening tool that an be used to classify individuals into different categories based on their height and weight. To calculate, it divides your weight by height using the following formula: BMI = kg/m2. BMI is used to help identify elevated risk for various health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol. Higher BMI’s have been found to be associated with a higher risk of these health outcomes.
While the BMI is a beneficial screening tool, it has several caveats. First, BMI does not measure body fat or body composition. As such, individuals who have a high amount of muscle mass might have a higher BMI classifying them as overweight or even obese. Second, BMI does not account for various demographics such as age, sex, or ethnicity. Another important note about the BMI is that an individual can be categorized as obese, according to BMI standards, but still be “metabolically healthy”. In other words, individuals who meet the recommended guidelines for physical activity and adhere to a healthy lifestyle can still reap the health benefits even if they are not in the healthy BMI range.
For individuals looking to improve their BMI, it is never too late to begin living a healthier lifestyle. Minor changes such as eating healthier and exercising a little bit each day can make improvements on your overall health and BMI. It is recommended you start small, such as walking for 30 minutes per week or limiting your sitting time. Incorporate positive behavioral interventions like goal setting. Whatever your motivation for living a healthier life, the Healthy Lifestyle Center can help by providing healthy lifestyle consultations specific to exercise, nutrition, and goal setting. We can assist in providing support for maintaining motivation and adherence to living a healthier life.
By Matt Lewandowski
Sources: Measuring BMI for adults, children, and teens. Yvette Brazier, Medical News Today, November 8, 2018; Metabolically healthy obesity: All you need to know.Joseph Nordqvist, Medical News Today, April 18, 2017; BMI: What’s Your Number?HMR Weight Management Services, September 17, 2018.