January 28, 2012

BMI – What does it really mean?

Posted in Weight Loss tagged , , , , , , at 12:54 pm by Dr Michelle Torrance ND, LAc

We’ve all looked it up – plug in your height and your weight and you get a number. http://www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi/

But what does it mean? You can reference the table that is usually attached, and see where you fall in the graph. You can look at the calculator’s recommendation about where you “should” be. You can look at the titles, “Healthy”, “Overweight“, “Obese” and see which category relates to you.

But the question really is, what do all those definitions mean to you?

Part I of the Answer

Let’s define BMI. Essentially, all it is is a height/weight ratio. It is very broad in its scope and its only purpose is to give an easy to use guideline regarding healthy vs. unhealthy weight. The higher the your number, the higher your health risks from weight and obesity related diseases.

What BMI doesn’t tell you: It doesn’t estimate your body fat. It can’t tell you how much abdominal or visceral fat you carry. It doesn’t predict your cardiovascular risks. It doesn’t care about your body composition.

What BMI does tell you: People with bigger numbers tend to be more sick. The higher the number, generally, the larger percentage of fat a person carries. The difference between “Healthy” and “Overweight” is fairly mild from a morbidity (the rate of incidence of disease) and mortality (death) point of view. But past that…”Obese”, “Morbid” and “Super”… some serious problems begin to arise.

Part II will discuss some of the metabolic effects that extra fat cells (adipocytes) create, and Part III of this posting will discuss some of the ways we can personally change these outcomes!