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BMI not a good measure if you're muscular or athletic

Updated on May 18, 2007

Body Mass Index (BMI) can be used to indicate if you are overweight, obese or underweight. It will, however, overestimate fatness in people who are muscular or athletic. It is not a good index for adolescents or children.

Excess weight is a problem facing an estimated 97 million adults in the United States. Currently, about one-fifth of all U.S. adults are believed to be considerably overweight. There are more "obese" people in the U.S. today than ever according to several medical journals and the ADA -- The American Dietetic Association.

We all know exercise is the best thing for us! But before you decide to pursue a weight-loss program, you should understand the definition, causes and health risks of being overweight. Here is some important information that may help motivate you to tackle this complex and serious health condition, if you are indeed overweight.

What's the Difference Between Being Overweight and Being Obese?

The terms "overweight" and "obese" are often used interchangeably. Although they both refer to excess body weight, they refer to different degrees of this condition. To determine the degree of a person's excess body weight accurately, many doctors use something called a Body Mass Index, or BMI, a measurement of weight that takes height into account.

A person with a BMI of 25 to 29.99 is considered "overweight." A person with a BMI of 30 or greater, or who is at least 30 lbs overweight (depending on height), would be diagnosed as "obese", the condition of being considerably overweight. A registered dietitian or health care provider can help you determine your BMI and put you on a healthy diet.

To calculate your BMI:

Take your Weight in pounds multiply that by 704

Divide that number by height in inches

Divide that number by height in inches again

19 - 24.9 = You Are Fit

25 - 29.9 = Overweight. You should address the problem now! This is when health issues may begin (high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol)

30+ = Obese = High risk for health problems.

Your BMI and what it says about your health

Most medical personnel will tell you that being overweight is unhealthy. A long list of ailments await those who are overweight or obese. These include increased risks of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes just to name a few. Have you ever stopped to think however, that the definition of overweight means different things to different people?

For instance, a 5 foot 4 inch tall woman can be considered overweight at 160 pounds while a 6 foot 2 inch man is on the thin side at 160 pounds. How do you know what's the ideal weight for you? One way is to put everything on the same scale by adjusting for height. This can be done using the Body Mass Index (BMI) calculation.

The problem with BMI

The problem with BMI is that is it not a good measure if you're muscular or athletic. The BMI is used by doctors to assess patients that are overweight or obese. It does a very good job of describing relative weight for any given height and measures your overall total body fat content. It does not however, differentiate between people with too much fat and athletic, muscular body type people. Thus, you should really use BMI in conjunction with other body composition assessments.

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  • Maddie Ruud profile image

    Maddie Ruud 

    11 years ago from Oakland, CA

    Fabulous hub. Too many people calculate their self-worth by their BMI.

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