You entered your height and weight in the BMI calculator on a health website, and it says you’re “healthy.” Or, your BMI states you are overweight which can be perceived as being unhealthy. But is that really true? Does a BMI number automatically make you healthy or unhealthy?
Weight and body mass index may be the go-to numbers for defining obesity and related health risks, but they fall far short for many people. Case in point: athletes. They can have low body fat with a lot of muscle, work out daily and eat well, and still be considered overweight or even obese according to BMI. Height and weight do not tell the entire story.
A study, recently published in the International Journal of Obesity, found that body mass index (BMI) is not reliable when it comes to measuring someone’s health. The researchers, at the University of California –Los Angeles, found that 34.4 million Americans,who are considered overweight according to their BMI (25 to 29.9), are healthy and the same goes for 19.8 million who are considered obese (a BMI of 30 or higher). This study also found that a decent portion of the participants with a normal BMI did have some kind of undiagnosed health issue.
Body Composition: Muscle vs. Fat
If BMI is a starting point for determining how healthy your weight is, body fat percentage is the next step. Measuring how much of your weight is fat can do away with the shortcomings of BMI. A body fat analysis may also pick up risk factors that BMI doesn’t.
But neither BMI nor body fat percentage can completely account for an increasingly identified risk factor: body shape. Several studies have noted the link between having an “apple shape” – a larger waist circumference – and various health risks.
What’s a Healthy Weight For You?
Much of the research and expert opinions seems to arrive at this conclusion: “Healthy weight” is not one simple measurement that can be taken independently of someone’s unique life and health circumstances. Instead, it’s a variety of measurements and analyses that can give a more accurate picture. A closer look that involves body composition, diet and activity analysis, as well as other risk factors (like smoking) is a better judge of health.
So there you have it! We cannot judge the state of someone’s healthy simply by looking at the size of their body. Being overweight does not automatically mean you are unhealthy, just as being thin does not automatically mean you are healthy.
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Khyrunnessa Rabbani - I am perfectly imperfect! Passionate believer if you love your body and yourself and the rest will fall into place.