Body Mass Index or simply BMI which is also known as the Quetelet indicator is a method of calculation used to measure an individual’s fats in the body based on their weight and height. It was proposed in 1832 by a Belgian mathematician, astronomer and statistician Adolf Quetelet. This applies to both adults, and children from the age of two. From the age of two, the doctor determines BMI at an individual’s routine health check. He/she then plots the right measurement on the chart against those of the other individuals within the same age bracket.
How is BMI Calculated
BMI is calculated by dividing one’s weight in kilograms by his/her height in square meters. If the results are less than 18.5, then the individual is underweight. If the results are between 18.5 and 24.9, then the individual is within the normal curve.
However, if the results show 30 and above, then the individual is said to be obese. BMI measures for children and adults due to change in normality in children, a child’s BMI is measured using the standard growth chart. It is also taken into account the different growth rate between young boys and young girls, and as well as the amount of body fat expected for each. For this reason, different standard growth charts are used.
Standard Growth Chart
A standard growth chart is a chart used by medics or pediatrics to monitor a child’s progress concerning growth. It tells the probable height and weight of the child as an adult. All this useful information is then well recorded on the child’s medical record for future reference by doctors. On the other hand, adults use the universal normal range to measure their BMI.
This is because BMI is interpreted the same for both women and men. It is, however, important to note that, women are known to have more body fat at 20% as compared to men who should only aim for about 17% of body fat.
Advantages of BMI
- BMI helps parents to recognize children that are at risk of obesity, especially at the adolescent stage. This helps them avoid weight-related issues when the child gets older. This can be performed through regular exercise and healthy eating habits.
- Frequent monitoring of your BMI helps prevent health issues such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, stroke, diabetes, heart attacks, and death. All this can occur when your BMI falls below or above the normal curve making you either underweight or obese.
- Measuring your BMI enables the ministry of health to do a risk assessment on the general public. It is however not an accurate measure especially when we take into consideration the elderly, pregnant women, and the athletes. It is a relatively easy way to measure the rate of obesity within a given group of people.
Disadvantages of BMI
- BMI doesn’t take into the consideration where the body fat comes from or is located in the body. Therefore, though your BMI may show that it is normal, having excess fat in certain areas of the body can still put you at risk of obese related diseases such as heart attack. For example, having excess abdominal fat might push a woman’s waistline past the recommended size. This is because, though they are not overweight, they are still over fat which possesses the same amount of threat.
- Most of the time, BMI overestimates the weight of a person. Let’s take for example athletes, weightlifters, and bodybuilders. Due to their training, they tend to have very little body fat. This is however compensated by their muscle weight. Measuring such an individual might show that they are overweight while in a real sense they are not.
- Body Mass Index or BMI isn’t able to differentiate between the kinds of fat that you carry. There are two kinds of fat in a person’s body, each with a different function. We have the subcutaneous fat which is fat that is found under your skin. It has no major effect on your health other than influencing your physical appearance in places like your hips or thighs. On the other hand, we have the hidden fat, which is found surrounding the major organs in the body. If in excess, it poses a significant health risk to an individual.
- Do you know BMI is not accurate? For example, research shows that children tend to add on weight very fast causing their BMI to go up during puberty. It is the duty of your health care provider to determine if it is normal or not. Meaning of terms in BMI measurement The BMI percentiles tell how individual measurements vary to others of the same age and gender. Take for example, in case a person has a BMI within the 7oth percentile, 70 percentage of the individuals of the same gender and the age measured as well had quite a lower BMI.
BMI isn’t a perfect measure
Although a BMI isn’t even a direct or a perfect measure of your body fat, most of the kids at or even above 95th percentile are being categorized as obese; a word many doctors mostly use to show an excess of the body-fat, which increases the risk of the weight-related health problems. Children whose BMI is at 85th to 94th percentiles are said to be obese, this can be due to the presence of more body fat or muscles. A kid whose BMI ranges between 5th percentile to the 85th percentile is in the recommended healthy weight range.
On the other hand, if a child’s BMI goes below 5th percentile, he or she is considered to be underweight and in each case, at risk of diseases. It is important to note that, for you to have essential accuracy, you need to combine BMI with other measurement methods. This will enable you to gauge your weight holistically and eventually, find the right balance to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Be happy with yourself, take one step at a time, eat healthily and enough food. Stay motivated regardless of the curve you fall on. Remember that for anything to be effective, it has to be done with wisdom, knowledge, and understanding.
Importance of Checking BMI
Knowing your BMI is very essential because you are able to confirm if your weight is normal or not. Through the use of a BMI calculator, it is easier to verify your measurement. This provides you an opportunity to either lose or gain weight. Be aware that both overweight and underweight can cause you to suffer from various illnesses. You do not want to have any complications because you are obese or underweight. That’s why it is recommended to monitor your BMI regularly so you know what to do to avoid these circumstances. When you do, have the commitment to change your lifestyle by eating healthier foods and doing better habits that can help you maintain a good, normal weight.
Therefore, make frequent visits to your doctor and as you get your BMI checked, ensure that you discuss your overall health. Make sure to consider the appropriate workout and eating formulae that work well for you with your trainer.