What Does Body Mass Index Really Mean?

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If you are trying to lose weight, then you have probably heard the term Body Mass Index or BMI but do you know why it is important and what is has to do with getting in shape? If not, then read on so you can get a better understanding what BMI is and both its limitations and helpfulness relative to your journey to a healthier body and lifestyle.

What is the Body Mass Index?

Your BMI is a proxy for measuring your body fat based on your weight and height. Determining your BMI can be done by dividing your body weight by the square of your height. For example, if you weigh 60 kilos and are 1.68 metres tall, then your BMI equation will look like this:

BMI = 60 kg / (1.68 m2) = 60 / 2.8 = 21 (all digits rounded down)

Thus, your BMI is 21. According to the World Health Organization, this is a healthy BMI. According to the WHO, a person with a BMI ranging anywhere from 18.50 to 24.99 is considered normal and healthy, 25 to 29.99 is seen as overweight, and 30+ is considered obese. A person with a BMI under 18.50 is considered underweight or malnourished.

Determining your BMI is fairly easy and, per the WHO definitions, it is a pretty easy way to see if you are at a healthy weight for your size. However, the BMI is just a number. It cannot predict health conditions or take other health variables into account. For example, you may have a BMI of 22 but be a regular smoker. Thus, you have a healthy BMI but you are still at risk because of your unhealthy lifestyle related to smoking. Some people have very low BMI but still have very high rates of cholesterol. Thus, the BMI can be misleading-you may be healthy according to BMI standards, but since it is not a comprehensive measurement for your overall health, you still need to take a more holistic approach to understanding your health.

Is Knowing Your Body Mass Index Useful

Knowing your BMI can be a useful thing; it can let you know where you stand in relation to healthy weight vs. at risk weights. However, as was stated before, it is not enough to simply know your BMI and think you are healthy. You need to look at your body as an intricate web of parts that work together to create your overall health. You should be aware of your eating habits, your cholesterol, the amount of exercise you get, the amount of stress you experience, the overall health of your emotions-all of these factors play a role in keeping your body functioning as close to optimally as possible. Measuring your BMI is a good thing as it lets you know what risks can be associated with obesity or malnourishment, but think of your body as a beautiful portrait with many unique features and focus on how they work individually and collectively to keep you healthy and whole.

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