Currently we are in the grip of an obesity crisis that doctors and health officials are worrying has reached epidemic proportions. Our waistlines are expanding, we’re getting fatter, we’re becoming less fit, and our health is suffering massively. For the very first time ever, because of weight and lifestyle-related medical issues, life expectancies for children of this generation, are thought to be less than that of their parents. A poor diet, a lack of exercise, and unhealthy lifestyle choices are primarily to blame, so is there anything that can be done? Thankfully yes, there’s plenty that can be done, and it doesn’t take anything overly complex or scientific either. Become more active, cut way back on junk, drink more water, and eat healthier covers the basics. On top of that however, knowing and understanding your BMI, or Body Mass Index, is also extremely beneficial. So, what does BMI have to do with healthy living? Well, let’s learn more about BMI, shall we?
What is BMI? – As mentioned, BMI stands for Body Mass Index, and it is a tried and tested method for doctors and health officials to give a brief and general overview of your health and well-being. BMI is a quick calculation which utilizes a person’s height against their weight, to basically see how healthy, or unhealthy, an individual happens to be. BMI isn’t simply a calculation used to determine whether you’re overweight, it is used to serve as a risk-factor for the development of a wide range of chronic diseases and ailments – many of which are potentially life-threatening. Typical examples include: Hypertension, Type-2 Diabetes, Heart Disease, and some Cancers. A number of studies conducted over the years have found evidence to strongly suggest that individuals with higher BMIs are at a much greater risk of developing chronic illnesses than individuals with BMIs in the optimal range.
Calculating your BMI – One of the best things about BMI, is the fact that it is considered to be so simple to calculate. You yourself, can calculate your BMI with a very basic formula. It is worth noting that this is a basic formula and is by no means accurate. To get a more accurate overview, check out our handy online calculator instead. If you don’t have access to an internet connection however, use the following:
- BMI = How much you weigh in pounds / (height in inches x your height in inches) x 703
Alternatively, you can utilize our useful online calculator, which is there to make life even simpler for you.
What should my BMI be? – According to health officials, an optimal BMI should be anything from 18.5 to 24.9. Individuals in this range are considered to be in optimal condition and shouldn’t aim to lose weight, nor should they aim to gain weight. Maintenance is encouraged in this instance. A high BMI however, is a real problem because that generally indicates elevated body fat levels, which could in turn lead to obesity or morbid obesity. If your BMI is between 25 and 29.9 you are classed as overweight, and anything 30 or above is considered obese. As your BMI increases, your life expectancy diminishes, and your risk of chronic illness also increases. A low BMI however, can be just as dangerous, yet this is often overlooked for some reason. If you have a BMI index of anything below 18.5 your BMI is low, and you will be considered as underweight. A low BMI can also put you at risk of chronic illness, and again, it too can result in a reduced life expectancy. If your BMI is low, experts encourage you to gradually increase your weight in a safe, healthy, and controlled manner with a variety of healthy foods, drinks, and exercise protocols.
The downside to BMI – When it comes to getting a general overview of a person’s health and well-being, BMI is a very useful tool indeed. The main problem however, is that BMI is just that – general. It isn’t 100% accurate and should not be considered as such. To begin with, each individual out there is unique, and has a different shape and size. Bone density is a real issue, so when people say that they’re ‘big boned’ sometimes it is worth cutting them some slack, as a high bone density can indeed result in an increased BMI reading. The main issue however, is the fact that BMI does not determine where a person’s weight comes from. Body fat is of course the prime target, so what about water weight, bone density, and of course – muscle? Well, that’s the problem. If you take a 6ft bodybuilder that weighs 230 pounds of solid muscle, with a body fat percentage of 14%, the last thing he would be was fat. He’d have low body fat, visible abs, vascularity, and would be ripped. On paper however, he would be classed as obese. The optimal weight for a man at 6ft is around 177 pounds on paper, so according to a BMI, weighing 230 pounds at 6ft would make him obese. This therefore, makes it difficult to get an overall idea of his health and well-being. Another issue is that BMI can sometimes miss individuals with a lot of body fat, but an optimal weight. Say a 6ft man weighs 177 pounds, but is carry a lot of visceral belly fat, which is very dangerous, according to his BMI, he is in the optimal BMI range. In reality this is not true, so again, it is something that needs to be considered.
So, what does BMI have to do with healthy living? – Although it has its flaws, generally speaking, if you’re looking for a general overview of your health and well-being, using a BMI calculator, like the one we’ve provided here, is very beneficial. BMI will help provide a general overview of your health and whether you are indeed at a healthy weight or not, and you can therefor act accordingly, and make the necessary lifestyle and dietary choices if they are required.