Body mass index, or BMI, is a measure of body size. It combines a person’s weight with their height. The results of a BMI measurement can tell us whether a person’s weight is in a healthy place in relation to their height.
BMI does not measure body fat directly, and it does not account for age, sex, ethnicity, or muscle mass in adults. However, it uses standard weight status categories that can help doctors to track weight status across populations and identify potential issues in individuals. BMI is not accurate enough to use as a diagnostic tool, but it can screen for potential weight problems in adults and children.
Excess weight has the following effects on the body:
- It increases how hard the heart has to work.
- It raises blood pressure, blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
- It lowers high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or good cholesterol levels.
- It can make diabetes and other health problems more likely.
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), carrying extra weight can increase the risk of the following conditions:
hypertension, or high blood pressure, dyslipidemia, which involves high LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, or high levels of triglycerides, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea and respiratory problems, some cancers, including endometrial, breast and colon cancer.
Carrying extra weight as a child or teenager can also pose significant health risks, both during childhood and into adulthood. As with adult obesity, childhood obesity increases the risk of various health problems, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and sleep apnea. The American Heart Association (AHA) points out that children with a high BMI caused by excessive weight also have a higher risk of asthma and low self-esteem and psychological stress.
Benefits of a Healthy Weight
Walking with family or friends can be an enjoyable way of keeping fit and preventing unwanted weight gain. Apart from reducing the risk of the health conditions, maintaining a healthy weight offers additional benefits:
- fewer joint and muscle pains
- increased energy and ability to join in more activities
- improved regulation of bodily fluids and blood pressure
- reduced burden on the heart and circulatory system
- improved sleep patterns
Other Measures of a Healthy Body
BMI is a useful tool, but it cannot identify whether a person’s weight is made up of muscle or fat. For example, an athlete with a lot of muscle tissue may have a higher BMI than a person who is not very active. But, this does not mean that the athlete is overweight or unhealthy. In addition, cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure are more likely to occur in people who have additional fat — known as visceral fat — around their middle rather than their hips.
Other measures of body size include waist-hip ratio, waist-to-height ratio, and body composition which measures body fat and lean body mass. These measurement systems focus more on the amount of fat a person has and its distribution around the body.
Together with BMI, these additional measures can help to assess more accurately the health risks associated with an individual’s weight. BMI can be a useful screening tool for predicting certain health risks. However, people should use it with caution, as it does not take other factors such as activity levels and body composition into account.
For children and teens, it is important to include their age and sex when taking a BMI measurement because their bodies continuously change as they develop.
We’ll be discussing childhood obesity over the next few weeks, an issue I find to be of critical importance.
We believe in making healthy, lifelong changes to your daily eating and exercise patterns. Physician’s Weight Control & Wellness’s programs are different from other weight loss programs in that they are specifically constructed by bariatric specialists to meet each patient’s individual needs based on their body chemistry, lifestyle, and weight loss goals. Our individualized programs focus on providing positive alternatives to unhealthy habits and targeting foods that provide your body with the specific nutrients it needs for optimal energy and fat metabolism. Practical exercise and hydration are also implemented into our overall program.
We encourage you to become a part of our successful weight loss program. We offer 50 years of safety, experience, knowledge, and expertise found nowhere else!
Contact us with any questions about Physician’s Weight Control & Wellness Center and how we can help you in your journey to better health.