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Is the BMI Reliable?

By Sara Butler

Your body mass index (BMI) is considered the gold standard for assessing your personal health and wellness. The problem with it is that you can eat right, fit in your favorite pair of jeans just fine, and lift weights -- but still be at an “unhealthy weight” according to the BMI. Why is this so? If you’re trying to assess your health, there are other things you need to be looking at aside from your body mass index in order to really see the whole picture.

The BMI is Outdated

Did you know that the body mass index was created about 200 years ago? It’s true! According to the Cleveland Clinic, it’s not a measurement of actual body fat, but simply a ratio of your height to weight. It doesn’t consider other factors such as your race, bone density, or biological sex. And those factors do make a difference.

The BMI Doesn’t Differentiate

A person at the peak of their physical fitness can measure as “obese” on the BMI scale simply because they have a lot of muscle. That’s right; you could be in the greatest shape ever and still measure as overweight in the BMI because it doesn’t differentiate between muscle and fat on your frame. According to the National Institutes of Health, in 2016, 47 percent of people with an overweight BMI were actually healthy.

The BMI is not an Accurate Reflection of Health

Another glaring problem with the BMI scale is that people who measure as “healthy” on the BMI scale actually have other, significant health problems such as high blood pressure, insulin resistance, chronic inflammation, and high cholesterol. There are simply better tests out there to gauge your overall health.

In the End

A far better gauge of your overall health and wellness is your waist circumference. It may not take into account factors such as race either, but a universal red flag of good health is excess fat around the middle. If you have it, then you need to work to reduce it. To get a more accurate snapshot of your health, try a scale that calculates your body composition instead of relying on the BMI.

So, there you have it. The BMI is still used by many healthcare professionals and health insurance companies as a way to measure health, but now you know there are better ways to figure out just how healthy you are.

To learn more about your health and wellness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic.


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