Is BMI All Its Cracked Up To Be
Body mass index, commonly referred to as BMI is a popular number used to figure out if somebody is at an unhealthy weight. But what may surprise you is that the amount of lean muscle and body fat are not a part of calculating the equation. It’s for this reason that some experts don’t put a lo
Body mass index, commonly referred to as BMI is a popular number used to figure out if somebody is at an unhealthy weight. But what may surprise you is that the amount of lean muscle and body fat are not a part of calculating the equation. It’s for this reason that some experts don’t put a lot of stock into an individual’s BMI number. So, why is BMI a useful measurement for some and not others, and what is it anyway?
The BMI was formulated in the early part of the 1800s by Adolphe Quetelet. In fact, some people still refer to it as the Quetelet index. What it boils down to is comparing a person’s height to their weight, and then seeing if the resulting number falls into a healthy range. The Body Mass Index is still used pretty much the same way today as it was in Quetelet’s day.
The formula to figure your BMI is straight forward, but having a calculator will make it much easier. Start by squaring your height in meters (those in the US can find online conversions to simplify this step). Then divide that number into your weight in kilograms.
Here’s an example:
We will assume a height of 1.6 meters (about 5 feet, 2 inches) and 54.5 kilograms (about 120 pounds).
Take 1.6 X 1.6 to get 2.56
Then divide 54.5 by 2.56 to get a BMI of about 21.3
Next, see what range your number falls into. 18.5 and below is underweight. 18.5 to 24.9 is normal (this is the range where the example falls), 25.0 to 29.9 is overweight, and 30 and higher is obese.
BMI, body fat percentage and general health all make up how fit somebody is. Of the three, BMI can be somewhat unreliable, in some cases. Let’s look at why this is the case.
People who have a lot of muscle show less accurate BMI readings. The reason is that muscles is more dense and weighs more than fat. So, someone that’s shorter and in good shape may weigh more, but be healthier than someone who is taller and carries more fat. The numbers used in the Body Mass Index don’t take these things into account. Body builders, professional wrestlers, football players and other well-muscled athletes will rank higher in a BMI range than they should. It may not be accurate in their case, but what about everybody else?
The only safe answer to that question is “maybe”. The BMI is usually a ways off for children. As mentioned, shorter people or those with a lot of muscle don’t get accurate results. But. it’s also taller people who may get readings that are lower than they should be. Finally, there is not a different BMI for men and women, even though they differ in basic body fat composition.
It may sound like the Body Mass Index isn’t much use to anyone, but that’s not the case, either. It is quite accurate for a large percentage of the population. Furthermore, for all of its faults, it can give everybody a rough idea of their health. An artificially high BMI may alert somebody to taking better care of their health, and that’s definitely a good thing.
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