Is BMI the Best Measure of Your Health?

Is BMI the Best Measure of Your Health?

“You can be fat, but fit,” trumpet the headlines. Even though obesity, morbid obesity, and simply being overweight are associated with increased risk for severe, life-threatening illnesses, each individual’s case is different. 

So, is it time to throw out the body mass index (BMI) as a measurement of health?

Not so fast, says Kimberly Bolling, MD, a caring and expert internist in Bowie, Maryland. Though many factors combine to determine whether you’re healthy, your BMI is still a valid measurement. 

Here’s how to use your BMI, and how to use other measurements too, to get an accurate reading of your overall fitness.

BMI can be deceiving

Your BMI gives you a good idea of where you fit on the spectrum of weight and health. The BMI calculator measures the ratio between how much weight you carry relative to the size of your frame (i.e., your height). You can calculate your own BMI here.

When the ratio of your body weight to your height is higher than normal — which ranges from 18.5-24.9) — you may be classified as either overweight (BMI 25-29.9), obese (BMI 30-39.9), or morbidly obese (BMI 40 or more), which is now referred to as “Class II obesity.” 

Even being just slightly overweight raises your risk for life-threatening conditions, including heart attack and stroke. The higher your BMI, the higher your risk. 

However, BMI doesn’t differentiate between the weight of fat and the weight of muscle. If you’re a muscle-bound athlete, your BMI might put you in the obese category, even though you’re clearly not obese. 

If you don’t factor in your sex when entering your height and weight, you might also get misleading results, because women naturally have more fat than men do.

If you’re not a bodybuilder or professional athlete, though, BMI is a useful window into your health. Another caveat: If you’ve reached age 65, a BMI of 25-27 is healthier than one under 25, because the slight extra weight helps protect against bone loss.

Don’t throw out the BMI

Dr. Bolling discusses your BMI with you so you understand how it applies to your individual situation. 

Even though a high BMI puts you at greater risk for serious illnesses, if your other metrics are good, you can gradually work on shedding the extra pounds through a supervised weight loss program without panicking about your health.

Conversely, you don’t get off scot-free if you have a low or normal BMI. You might still have higher-than-normal cholesterol or blood pressure readings that puts you at risk for heart disease or stroke. 

If your BMI is too low, you could have a number of health issues associated with lower-than-normal weight, including osteoporosis (i.e., bone loss). Underweight women are at risk for amenorrhea (loss of periods). 

Concentrate on health

If your BMI puts you in the obese or obese II category, Dr. Bolling helps you safely and quickly lose weight through lifestyle changes and medically supervised weight loss management. 

She may even prescribe safe medications that help you burn excess fat quickly, so you see the results of your work and reap the health benefits too.

To put your BMI in context, Dr. Bolling measures other parameters that affect your health. Tests to evaluate your overall fitness and wellness include:

Losing weight and changing your BMI is just part of the picture. In a medically supervised weight loss program, Dr. Bolling also keeps tabs on your:

If you want to increase your fitness and health while you lose weight, you need more than a BMI calculator. 

Phone our Bowie, Maryland, office today at 301-352-0090 or request an appointment online to set up a weight loss management program that includes an overall evaluation of your health. 

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