Many doctors and health professional use the body mass index (BMI) to assess the general health of their patients.
But centering physical diagnosis on the BMI index can be inappropriate in some
More researchers argue that it’s not the most accurate way to measure body weight.
What is it ?
No it’s not an acronym for ”black market internationnal” or ”bad mental image”
The BMI is a measurement that attempt to quantify the amount of tissue mass (muscle, bone and fat) in a person.
Basically, it provides an easy way to measure obesity.
We can then categorise that person under underweight, normal, overweight or obese.
Here’s a useful link to measure you’re BMI
Free Body Mass Index (BMI) calculator with reference charts and tables for both child and adult, along with hundreds of other free calculators.
But this measure does not tell the whole story
It does not take into account body composition.
BMI can’t distinguish between fat and muscle, which tends to be heavier.
More toned individuals can tip into the overweight status, even if their fat levels are low.
Mr. Olympia, Phillip Jerrod Heath, would be considered obese class III during his off season and Obese class II during contest prep.
BMI also can’t tell the different types of fat.
Different types of fat and where the body stores it can have different metabolic effects on health.
Belly or abdominal fat, which is known as visceral fat, is more harmful than fat that’s simply sitting under the skin.
Visceral fat develops deep among muscles and around organs like the liver. These fat cells do more than just sit there and make your pants feel tight. They also change the way your body operates provoking inflammation and influencing hormone functions.
A person might also be compensating with harmful behaviors to keep themselves at that BMI (Anorexia, Binge Eating, Compulsive Exercisers, Smokers, Drug Users etc.)
Weight as a proxy or primary marker of health has its weakness.
Should you use it, you can but let’s take a quick look at some alternative you could also use.
Alternatives to BMI
Body Adiposity Index
BAI is unlike BMI as it does not use your weight in the calculation. In order to work out your percentage body fat, BAI multiplies your hip circumference by your height.
Here’s a useful link to measure you’re BAI :
This body adiposity index calculator, or BAI calculator, determines your body adiposity index, also know as body fat percentage. Classification categories …
Waist circumference measurements
One of the most effective alternatives to BMI is the old-fashioned tape measure.
By measuring your waist you can get a good heads up of the amount of abdominal fat you are carrying.
Body Fat measuring with Calipers
Using a tool called a caliper, a trained tester can measure body fat at 3 to 9 sites by pinching the skin and the fat that lies under it. He pulls the skin and fat away from the muscle and places the caliper 1 cm (0.4 in) above or below. Two or three measurements are usually taken at each site.
CT scans, MRIs and dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA)
These methods can provide a clearer glimpse at the body’s make-up by separating out fat from muscle or by measuring bone density.
But these are pretty expensive compared to stepping on a scale.
So why is BMI still the preferred way to measure weight and evaluate obesity?
Well, it’s a relatively easy measurement to take. Taking a person’s height and weight and plugging it into an equation that produces a number informs doctors about whether their patients are at high, low or no risk when it comes to weight-related health problems.
Perhaps doctors should rely on not just assessing body composition to assess general health but measuring hormones and biomarkers in the blood or urine to get a better handle on abnormal processes that may contribute to obesity and chronic disease.