The big deal about BMI: is Body Mass Index really the best measure of a healthy weight?

The big deal about BMI: is Body Mass Index really the best measure of a healthy weight?

8 July 2015

Skinny, thin, plumb, chubby, obese – for years Doctors have decided whether we’re a ‘normal’, healthy weight according to our BMI. But all this could be about to change thanks to a graphic produced by a group of Scientists in America, which shows just how dramatically different people with the same BMI can look.

Body Mass Index divides weight in kilograms by height in meters squared to generate a measurement.  A reading of between 18.5 and 25 is considered to be healthy, with anything between 25 and 30 overweight, 30+ obese and below 18.5 underweight.

Though this might not paint the most accurate picture of a person’s health. One of the scientists explained, “Since BMI doesn’t take body mass composition or distribution into account, it is basically blind to fitness level and body shape.

For example you can be an athlete in great shape and be deemed overweight or even obese. (Since muscle is more dense than fat).

Or, you could have an average BMI but carry a significantly higher amount of mass in your torso which, as some studies have shown, can be a predictor of health risks such as cardiovascular disease or diabetes.”

Participants in the recent study were all 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighed 172lbs (just over 12 stones), giving them a BMI of 25.4. Though their body shape – and presumably health – varied greatly, showing the shortfalls of the BMI measurement, which can place top athletes in the same BMI grouping as people who do no exercise at all.

So is it time to ditch the bathroom scales? Many Nutritionists now argue that body fat percentage and body composition are a far more accurate way to assess a person’s health – so don’t panic about a couple of extra pounds.

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Image credit: _Zebor/ Shutterstock