What is BMI? According to the CDC, “BMI is a person’s weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in meters. BMI does not measure body fat directly, but research has shown that BMI is moderately correlated with more direct measures of body fat obtained from skinfold thickness measurements, bioelectrical impedance, densitometry (underwater weighing), dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) and other methods. Furthermore, BMI appears to be as strongly correlated with various metabolic and disease outcome as are these more direct measures of body fatness 4,5,6,7,8,9. In general, BMI is an inexpensive and easy-to-perform method of screening for weight category, for example underweight, normal or healthy weight, overweight, and obesity.”
As far as health is concerned, excess body fat is negative. In contrast, an above-average muscle mass is more likely to be positive.
The BMI does not distinguish between body fat and fat-free mass. Yet statistics show that the body mass index of about 73 percent of the people is quite a significant indicator of the body fat percentage. Thus, in three out of four cases, the BMI seems to have a significant relevance to health and in one out of four cases it does not seem to have any.
Body fat percentage vs. BMI
Despite its high relevance to health, the body fat percentage has its shortcomings. Scales for measuring body fat are simple to use but imprecise; the more accurate methods are very complicated and require skilled personnel.
The BMI, in contrast, can be calculated from two simple measurements which are reliable in most cases.
This seems to be the main reason why the BMI is still the most widely used value for estimating the body fat.
Try our Body Mass Calculator to see how you measure here.
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