Body Mass Index, more commonly known as BMI, is a calculated value which is often used in the medical field to quickly determine whether a person is underweight, of normal weight or overweight. This measure takes person’s weight and puts it into perspective with their height. Although BMI is a useful measure, there are a few misconceptions and therefore we bring you this #HeartSmart article to clarify its purpose and proper use!

BMI is a measure of person’s mass per a unit of square surface!

There is a number of online BMI calculators which are very easy to use, such as this NHS BMI calculator. If, however, you want to calculate your own BMI value, here is the magic equation:

Once you calculate your BMI value, find this value in this chart in order to find out, whether your height-to-weight ratio is classified as underweight, of normal weight, overweight or obese:

As already mentioned, BMI values are often used in the medical field as a quick classification of patients’ weight as well as a quick estimate of their body fat mass. In addition, this calculation allows scientists to generate statistics about the general weight trend of the population.

Generally, the higher BMI value, the higher body fat mass, the higher risk for chronic disease, such as Heart Disease, Hight Blood Pressure, Type2Diabetes, Gallstones, Breathing problems and some cancers.

58% of diabetes globally and 21% of chronic disease are attributable to a BMI above 35!

The key word here is Generally because the BMI calculation isn’t perfect and just like everything in the world, it has its downsides: age, activity levels, and muscle mass percentage is NOT taken into account when calculating this value. Do not be fooled, some online calculators will ask you for your gender, age and activity levels but if you take a minute and play around with different combinations, you will find that these changes make no difference to the final value what’s so ever!

If you had a look at the picture above, you might be questioning how is it possible, that these two people, would have the same BMI. Well, it is fairly simple. Have you ever heard that muscle weighs more than fat? That is actually true and because the BMI measure is a simple calculation including only weight and height, this scenario is possible!

How can you be more accurate when trying to figure out your body composition? First of all, you can purchase a digital scale which measures body fat percentage or you can obtain these measurements from your GP. But there are also ways to do it without any fancy equipment!

Use waist measurements as an addition to a BMI calculation!

Naturally, humans store fat around their hips. Any additional fat tends to store around the waist. High amount of fat located around the waist rather than hips is a risk factor for Heart Disease, Type 2 Diabetes and other chronic diseases! In order to get the most accurate value, measure your waist at your belly button. Waist size larger than 102cm for men, and 88cm for women is considered a high risk!

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