When you’re working to get healthy, it’s impossible to escape strong opinions about the Body Mass Index. Some people swear by it, while others disregard it as a useless measurement. This article will take you through the meaning of the BMI, some criticisms of it, and some advantages to help you understand what your BMI actually means so you can form a well-informed opinion about the BMI as a whole.

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What Your BMI Means

Basically, BMI is just a way to understand your height/weight ratio. BMI is calculated with the following equation:

From there, your BMI will fall into one of the following categories: underweight (below 18.5), normal weight (18.5-24.9), overweight (25.0-29.9), and obese (over 30.0).

Criticisms of the BMI

When the equation above became the Body Mass Index in 1972, it was originally designed to be a way to measure large populations of people, not individuals. And when applied to individuals, it’s far from a perfect measurement. It doesn’t account for body composition, which means some unhealthy people may be in the normal weight category and some healthy people may be in the overweight category.

As an example, let’s take a look at Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. At 6’2, his weight of 225 gives him a BMI of 28.9 and places him squarely in the overweight category. This is a man who plays at the highest level of his sport and maintains a very high level of fitness, and yet the BMI doesn’t distinguish him as any different than someone who is less fit than him but has a similar weight/height ratio.

This is, of course, an extreme example, but it does illuminate some of the limitations of the BMI as an indicator of health.

Advantages of the BMI

Despite the criticisms, there are a few advantages to the BMI. For one, it’s easy to calculate, and calculators are easily found online. Two, it presents a range of healthy weights for each height to allow for some individual differences. And third, for most people, it’s a fairly accurate indication of whether or not they’re at a healthy weight. It isn’t perfect, but it can provide a guideline of where you generally want your weight to be.

The Takeaway

What we hope you take away from this blog post is an understanding of how the BMI is calculated and what it means. We aren’t going to tell you how to feel about the Body Mass Index; that’s entirely up to you. You may decide to disregard it entirely, or you may decide to use it as a basic guideline for your weight goals. Again, that’s your decision!

Just remember that health is the most important thing, not your BMI. Speak to your doctor if you’re concerned about your BMI or want help finding your ideal weight. They will be able to help you understand your current health status and what your goals should be. Above all, focus on reaching optimal health rather than focusing solely on your BMI!

 

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