Don’t rely entirely on your BMI

People everywhere commonly use BMI (Body Mass Index) as a quick-and-dirty way of gauging whether they’re within the “normal” weight range.  But beware!  BMI is strictly a ratio of your height-to-weight and says nothing about your body composition or fitness level.  Depending on the person, it’s quite possible to get a misleading result.

Here’s why:

  • Muscular people will have higher BMI because they weigh more, even though their body fat may be low.
  • Ever hear of “skinny fat”?… inactive people who appear thin, who are in poor shape can have a normal range BMI but have a lot of body fat and not as much lean muscle mass as they should.
  • Ethnicity can play a factor in what defines a “normal” BMI range.
  • Body type, as it relates to the location of fat (abdominal fat = apple shaped, hip & thigh fat = pear shaped) is a predictor of health risk.  Those with apple-shaped bodies are at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.
Bottom line:  When it comes to knowing your numbers, don’t stop at your BMI.  Use your BMI as the first checkpoint, but keep measuring.  Take a waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) to obtain more information about risks associated with body fat.  Males with a WHR >1.0 and women with a WHR >0.85 are at a high health risk.
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