Is BMI Accurate? And is the BMI Classification Correct?
What’s your BMI? Is it in a healthy range? If so, that’s terrific! You’ve done a great job maintaining a healthy weight.
But is there more to determining your overall health than just figuring out your BMI? You bet there is! Did you know that:
- Stress and genes can affect your overall health?
- Your healthy BMI may change with your age?
- A high BMI may not be indicative of obesity?
Want to know more? Read on to learn all about what keeping track of your BMI can do for your health.
Is BMI Accurate as a Measure of Health?
Your BMI is a very accurate measure of whether you’re underweight, average/normal weight or overweight. But is it an accurate measure of health?
Your BMI, as a standalone number, is a fair indicator of whether you’re at risk for health complications. For instance, someone who is obese is at a much greater risk of heart attack, stroke and even cancers.
It’s also a fair indicator of whether you’re underweight. That means it can help to predict anemia, problems in pregnancy and even fertility issues in both men and women.
But your BMI is not the only indicator of your health. For instance, it’s perfectly possible for a sedentary person who eats poorly to register within a normal weight. This person, of course, is more likely to suffer health conditions than someone who maintains a healthy BMI through exercise and proper diet.
That said, if you want to predict health, you’ll need to consider factors other than your body mass index.
Should You Rely on BMI to Determine Health?
Of course, you shouldn’t rely solely on your body mass index to predict health. There are so many other factors which can influence your health, and it’s important to consider them all.
First, genetics may determine whether you’re obese or not. Genes may also determine the likelihood that you’ll develop diseases like cancer and type 2 diabetes.
Your lifestyle choices, of course, impact your health as well. For instance, a high BMI is linked to a greater risk of cancer. However, smoking cigarettes is more likely to cause cancer than a high BMI.
Hormones and hormonal changes can influence your health. Interestingly enough, those hormonal changes can influence your weight as well. Whether they’re naturally occurring hormonal fluctuations or related to hormone therapy, hormonal changes are linked to stroke and more.
Even something as seemingly simple as stress can cause your health to suffer. Stress has been proven to cause obesity as well as menstrual and fertility issues, mental health disorders and heart trouble.
So, as you can see, BMI isn’t the only calculation you’ll need to consider when predicting your long term health. The lifestyle you lead will play a huge role in determining whether you’ll be healthy or be at risk for disease.
So What Does the BMI Accurately Tell You?
So, if there are so many factors at play, what good is BMI? Are your weight and BMI accurate predictors of your long term health, or are they just numbers you shouldn’t worry about?
You should absolutely pay attention to both your weight and your BMI. Your BMI may not be the only factor influencing your long term health, but it’s certainly a good way to track whether you need to make changes to your lifestyle.
A healthy BMI is considered anywhere from 18.5 to 24.9. If you’re within this range, it’s been shown that you’re at a lower risk for quite a few diseases, including:
- Heart attack
- Type 2 diabetes
- High blood pressure
- Unhealthy pregnancy and high birth weight
- Certain types of cancer
- Fertility problems in both men and women
- Gallbladder disease
And that’s not a complete list! There are so many long term effects of obesity that BMI can help you to predict, that it would be foolish not to consider tracking your body mass index.
Things Your BMI Won’t Tell You
As we mentioned, your BMI isn’t a fail-proof measure of good health. There are other factors which influence your overall well-being, and some have little to do with your weight.
First, it’s important to note that someone with a high BMI isn’t necessarily obese. For instance, distance runners, swimmers, bodybuilders and anyone with a lot of lean muscle will naturally weigh more than those who don’t.
With that said, a woman who is five feet tall and sits on her couch all day may weigh the same as a woman who is the same height and lifts weights every morning. Obviously, the body fat composition in these two women will be much different. So, then, will their level of health.
Your lifestyle will determine your risk of disease, too. We spoke of lifestyle choices as important factors in overall health. Nothing could be more true! To improve your health, regardless of your BMI, maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Eat a well-balanced diet and be sure you’re exercising every week. Just 30 minutes each day of aerobic activity can do wonders to increase your overall health. Cut back on your alcohol, and stop using tobacco. Limit your sun exposure to decrease your risk of cancer.
You get the idea – use common sense! Weight and BMI are a great starting point for determining your health level. But being proactive about your health will greatly decrease your odds of illness even more.
Is the BMI Classification Correct?
Because there are so many factors which influence your health, you may be wondering if the BMI classification is correct. In a word, yes. As it stands today, the BMI classification is a very accurate way of predicting whether you’ll run into health problems later (or soon) in your life.
The BMI classification system has been around for years – since the 19th century! And in the time since it was developed, scientists and doctors have discovered other, additional ways to predict good health. For instance, the waist to height ratio is a good way to forecast problems like fertility issues or heart attack.
The BMI classification has worked well for decades. However, it’s important to note that if you’re over 65 years old or under 20 years old, the classification system might not be right for you.
Kids gain weight at different speeds and in different ways than adults do. It’s for that reason that they’ve got their own classification system based on percentiles.
Older adults, too, have slightly different body composition than adults under 65 years old. As we age, our metabolism changes, the structure of our cells changes, and we simply carry our weight differently. There are currently studies in place to determine what might perhaps be a better way to calculate BMI in the older populations.
Overall, though, the BMI classification is a fairly reliable standard. Keeping track of your body mass index will give you a highly accurate idea of whether you’re at risk for health complications.
As always, if you have any questions about your body mass index as it relates to your lifestyle, speak with your doctor! Together, you can work out a plan of healthy diet and exercise to ensure that you stay in top shape, and that your BMI is in a healthy range for your lifestyle.