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How Accurate is BMI and Does It Even Really Matter?

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by Matt Weik

BMI or Body Mass Index is the standard tool for health assessment used in most healthcare facilities these days. While this “tool” is used by most doctors these days, a large percentage of doctors don’t even speak with their patients on how to improve their score, things they need to change in their lifestyle, how to exercise properly, or even what they should change with their diet.

Unfortunately, many doctors these days are quick to write a prescription than to change behaviors and target them. Doctors aren’t getting to the root cause of a healthy or weight issue because the system wants quantity of appointments than worrying about the quality of appointments. Many doctors explain that they only get a very limited amount of time to sit down, diagnose, and prescribe a solution to an ailment or reason for the doctor’s visit. It’s unfortunate.

Although BMI is one of the most widespread methods of determining overall health through utilizing a simplistic height and weight chart, the growing consensus says that this one-size-fits-all approach can be majorly flawed – bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts, you’re going to want to pay close attention to this article.

What is BMI?

Body Mass Index (BMI) can be termed as a mathematical formula that divides a person’s weight as per the square of their height to come to a number that falls into any of these bodyweight categories:

• Obese Class I
• Obese Class II
• Obese Class III
• Overweight
• Healthy Weight
• Underweight
• Severely Underweight
• Very Severely Underweight

Some BMI charts can be even more simplified by only looking at underweight, healthy weight, overweight, and obese. Healthy weight and normal weight can be used interchangeably on BMI charts as well – both are used quite frequently.

Besides assigning any of these given categories, a high BMI can denote you have high body fat levels and can be used to assess certain weight classes that could lead to health issues. Even though BMI is used to indicate body fatness or a person’s overall health, it is not a truly accurate option to do so.

Side note: Did you know that if you were to purchase life insurance, they base your policy on your BMI score by getting your height and weight? Those of you who are lean but carry a lot of muscle mass are going to be extremely frustrated by reading the rest of this article, as it’s going to show that because you’re super healthy and fit, you’re going to be forced to pay a higher amount for life insurance as if you were overweight or even obese thanks to your lean muscle mass.

For fitness enthusiasts, BMI is far from an ideal way of measuring your body fat and health. Most of the time, BMI may estimate an athletic person’s body fat completely wrong.

Why is BMI Not Always an Accurate Measure of Overall Health?

BMI may be considered a quick, easily accessible, and affordable way to screen a person’s health, but the formula is better for information about the general population. When you analyze BMI on an individual level, there are various other factors that play a part in why BMI is not the right way or even an accurate way to measure overall health.

1. BMI is flawed with different demographics

When BMI was first formed, it was used to pull data from Anglo-Saxon bodies within an entire European population. Due to this, it is not always the right depiction of health for different demographics and races.

For instance, according to research, it was found that the BMI obesity cut-off for the Asian community falls lower than the original BMI chart.

In 2004, the WHO (World Health Organization) found that Asian people with a high risk for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease had lower BMIs.

2. BMI goes null and void with body fat percentage

Body Fat Percentage or BFP is the percentage of your body that is fat tissue compared to total body mass. It is generally measured with bioelectrical impedance, skinfold calipers, or DXA X-Ray Scan, being the most effective form.

One of the primary issues with BMI is that it cannot equate the difference between muscle mass and fat mass. As muscle tissue is denser than fat, many bodybuilders and athletes are termed overweight or even obese as per the BMI charts, despite being in peak athletic condition and health.

3. BMI is not reliable to use on elderly adults

Elderly adults, who mostly have lost some amount of bone mass and muscle, cannot rely on BMI as being an accurate judgment of their health. In this case, an older adult’s BMI could be within a standard range, but they might actually be overweight.

4. BMI does not consider the fat distribution

Although a greater BMI is synced with poor health conditions, the location of fat on your body can make a significant difference as well.

Those who have fat stored around the stomach area have an increased risk of chronic issues than those who have fat distribution on their buttocks, hips, and thighs.

BMI does not consider where the fat is stored on the body, and therefore it can miscalculate a person to be healthy when they are actually at a higher risk of disease.

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