Tag Archives: body mass

Is BMI A True Indicator Of Fitness?

Body Mass Index (BMI) is a formula of total body weight in pounds divided by overall height in meters that was created by the National Institutes of Health in 1998. It was established to measure fitness, or more specifically whether a person falls into a ‘healthy weight’ category. For years health professionals and exercisers have been using BMI has the go-to tool to distinguish ‘fat’ from ‘fit’, but there have always been questions surrounding its true effectiveness to deem a person’s health. Recently new studies have brought new doubts to light about the BMI’s effectiveness as a health marker.

BMI Categories

The current BMI indicator values are:

Underweight: Body fat percentage of less than 18.5
Healthy Weight: Body fat percentage of between 18.4 and 24.9
Overweight: Body fat percentage of 25-29.9
Obese: Body fat percentage of over 30
(You can calculate your BMI here.)

Supporting Arguments For BMI

Many medical professionals argue that BMI is an inexpensive, standardized and accessible weight category screening tool. But these professionals likely realize the limitations the BMI calculator carries, and won’t use it as a sole indicator of a person’s health. It was created to be used as a general healthy weight guideline, giving people a good goal category to try to achieve. Falling in the ‘healthy weight’ category may reduce a person’s risks of obesity and weight-related health conditions such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease. However, a BMI category does not make or break a person’s overall health.

Why BMI Isn’t a ‘One Size Fits All’ Tool 

The BMI system is flawed because it cannot differentiate between different types of fat or muscle mass. Therefor those who are very muscular or densely built may show as “overweight” or “obese” when they may be in excellent health. Women with certain shapes may show as “unhealthier” than they really are because BMI can’t distinguish between proportion either. For example, a very busty woman with little visceral fat elsewhere may show up in the wrong category. Similarly, some people may be very physically fit but is naturally a little on the heavier side who is wrongfully categorized as well. In these cases, a BMI isn’t the best tool to tell whether these people are ‘healthy’ or ‘unhealthy”.

New Studies Say “Back To The Drawing Board” 

According medical writer Catharine Paddock, PhD, new studies bring some startling concerns to light such as misclassification and discrimination when it comes to employers and insurance companies unfairly penalizing people for BMI status. One particular study found that cardiometric testing proved that over 50 million Americans who were classified as overweight or obese by their BMI results were actually in perfect health, while 21 million who were categorized as “healthy” by BMI standards were in actuality very unhealthy. Basically a person can be larger than another person but exercise much more, perform better in cardiovascular assessments and lead healthier lifestyles than the smaller person. Unfortunately, many employers and insurance carriers in the United States rely too heavily on the BMI index to decide whether a person gets certain coverage or health benefits. This is clearly not a fair way to dole out benefits.

In bref, the BMI calculator is a great tool to help motivate people to reduce body fat to a healthier range, but it simply cannot be solely relied upon to determine a person’s fitness or overall health. There are too many confounding factors and personal variances for the BMI to be very accurate across the board. Thanks for visiting DocChat, we hope you’ll be back soon!