Here’s a disconcerting number for Aussies to know: An estimated six out of ten Australian adults are overweight or obese, which means that more than half the country is at risk for developing metabolic diseases, chronic condition and diabetes. One of the most common methods used by health professionals to gauge your weight range and assess your risk of disease is Body Mass Index (BMI). It is important to understand what is BMI so that you can maintain a healthy number.
What is BMI or the Body Mass Index?
Your BMI is one of the most common methods used by medical professionals, nutritionists and doctors to determine if your weight is within a healthy range. The BMI measurement is a combination of your height and weight to form a measure that helps assess your risk of chronic disease.
It can be calculated using the following equation:
BMI = Weight (kg)/Height (m)2
As per medical experts, what is a healthy BMI?
The formula for BMI returns a number which falls in a range of 15 to 40 for most individuals. The meaning of these measures are:
- Less than 18.5: Underweight
- Between 18.5 and 24.9: Ideal Weight
- Between 25 and 29.9: Overweight
- Over 30: Obese
While these measures are helpful and indicative of good health, it is necessary to remember that BMI has its limitations and is only one measure of assessing weight and its relation to your health.
What is BMI in connection to my health?
If you are underweight as per the BMI it may indicate the following:
Lack of certain vitamins and minerals
- Weak immune system
- Bone problems
- Heart disease
- Susceptibility to illness and chronic disease
- Mental health disorders
If you fall within the healthy range, then you are already at the optimum weight for your height and are considered a healthy individual. The only challenge for you is to keep that weight within check and ensure you do not put on weight as you get older.
If you fall within the overweight or obese category, know that you are at risk of developing:
- High blood pressure
- Cardiovascular problems
- Sleep related issues such as insomnia
- Arthritis and other inflammatory conditions
- Coronary heart disease and heart attack
- Certain types of cancer
- Infertility and sexual problems
- Mental health problems
While it might seem daunting to lose or put on weight for certain individuals, know that it is possible and will give you the benefits of a healthier weight. Even minor weight changes can lower your risk of several risk factors mentioned above.
Since BMI can vary among race and people, what is a healthy BMI for me?
While the BMI range answers the question of what is a healthy BMI, it might not be applicable in your case if you fall under one of the following groups because BMI can fail to distinguish weight due to fat or muscle:
- Certain ethnic groups which include Pacific Islander populations, Aborigines and Asian
- Weight lifters and body builders
- Elite and high performance athletes
- Pregnant women
- Elderly people
- Those with a physical disability
- Those suffering from eating disorders
- Anyone under the age of 18 years
- Extremely obese individuals
Is BMI the best indicator of weight and health?
BMI has been declared a good indicator for health and adult lifespan for a group of individuals who have the same BMI rather than a single individual. While it is a useful measure, it is only an estimate and ignores a lot of variables such as age, ethnicity, gender and body composition.
BMI should be used in conjunction with waist circumference which is a better estimator of your body fat, especially the visceral fat in your body. That gives a better understanding of your likelihood of developing weight-related diseases.
BMI might not be the ideal health measure but it continues to be useful and valid. It is recommended by the World Health Organization and is simple enough for anyone to understand and apply to themselves. If you would like to consult a nutritionist or get in touch with a personal trainer, Avaana can help you find one.