North American adults are urged to find out what their Body Mass Index (BMI) is because this is supposed to be a better representation of healthy weight than weight alone. Body Mass Index is a calculation involving weight and height and the result of this calculation tells you if you are within a healthy range, too high, or too low.
How to Work out BMI
According to the experts, Body Mass Index is weight in kilograms over metric height squared. When you divide your weight by your height, you come up with a figure which is your BMI.
A doctor will use this to determine if you are overweight, underweight, or about right for your age and are able to compare numbers from past checkups to determine if there are any changes to be aware of.
Factors Affecting BMI
Several details contribute to the final number. One is your age: children under 18 and adults over the age of 65 should not use Body Mass Index as a sign of good or poor health.
Pregnancy and superior fitness levels also lead to misleading signs. BMI does not take factors into consideration such as muscle and bone density, water weight, blood and organ volume. It is also good for young people to lay on a little bit of fat during their formative years in order to withstand the many illnesses they endure while developing a strong immune system while at school, mixing with many kids and sharing germs.
Pregnancy affects the outcome of BMI for obvious reasons and exceptionally fit individuals, especially endurance athletes or people in strength-related sports, pack on more muscle than the ordinary person and this weighs more than fat.
In later life, during the 65+ years, adults are prone to loss of blood, muscle, and bone volume. Their BMI should be a little lower than it was at an earlier stage in life.
Is Your BMI Reliable?
As you can see, several factors can influence this number. Many illnesses will cause a person to lose bone density or to experience organ enlargement which can affect weight, for example. Also, some people are naturally more densely or finely built than others. This can cause some confusion over the numbers.
When one is outside of these numbers but not sick, a doctor will check for other health problems using x-rays, blood tests, ultrasound, or whatever technical devices are apt to provide some explanation. Health patients who don’t fit the BMI parameters aren’t necessarily overweight or underweight; they’re just anomalies.
For the most part however, the healthy range is wide enough to include almost everyone within a healthy weight. The frightening fact is that many North Americans sit at a Body Mass Index of 25 or above. Obesity and being overweight generally are serious problems and BMI is a potential indicator if one hides weight gain under clothing or a particular build.
Acting on BMI
Most people know when they are overweight. It is those on the borderline who can really use the BMI scale to see if they could tweak lifestyle a little to get into the healthy zone. The sorts of websites posting this information tend to be heart health and diabetes information pages because overweight people are at elevated risk of developing heart disease or Type 2 Diabetes, of having a stroke, and of other health problems related to poor eating habits and weight gain.
The best way to ensure one’s Body Mass Index stays within that healthy 18.5 to 24.9 range is to eat four to six small, well-balanced meals daily adding up to the number of calories you need for your age, sex, and activity level daily. Get active and stay active by adding 20 minutes of any exercise that gets your heart rate up every day. Even just walking is a good place to start.