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Knowing if Your BMI is a Health Risk?

Everyone hears about how important the body mass index (BMI) is, but there are a lot of people that experience confusion as to what actually is as well as what kind of affect it has on our overall health. While BMI is useful as a tool, what other factors come into play and how do they affect any health risk?


An easy answer for the definition of BMI is that it is an estimate of the amount of body fat that you have combined with your height and weight. It can be used as a gauge for a variety of risks for diseases that happen with a higher body fat level. The higher the number, the higher your potential for high blood pressure, heart disease, gallstones, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers and breathing problems. Typical health assessments use three measurements for any health risk: BMI, waist circumference and risk factors for obesity related health diseases. There are two areas that need to be considered when evaluating BMI: the measurement may turn out higher in athletes with a muscular build and older patients who may have lost some of their muscle due to age may result in lower numbers.

There are a number of BMI calculators that are available to simply plug in your height and weight and it will result in your corresponding BMI. The numbers correlate to: 18.5= underweight; 18.5-24.9 = normal weight; 25-29.0 = overweight; 30 and above = obesity. However, just being over or under weight with your BMI isn’t a single indicator for health risk. A physician will combine a number of other factors in to assist you in configuring your risk potential. These can include high bad (LDL) cholesterol level, hypertension (high blood pressure), low good cholesterol (HDL), high sugar level (blood glucose), high triglycerides, if you have a family history of premature heart disease, what level of physical activity you have, cigarette smoking. With each additional risk, your personal disease and health risk state takes a rise in number.

Waist measurements in both men and women have become a high indicator for potential health problems. If your waist measurement is greater than your hip measurement, you have a greater risk of type 2 diabetes as well as heart disease. If you combine this with a high BMI and any of the other health factors, the number increases exponentially.

There is some good news at the end of this information. Weight loss is one of the easier things you can do and will often decrease some of the other factors such as waist measurement, cholesterol and sugar levels. Weight loss also has a direct effect on blood pressure. While it’s easy to say weight loss, we all know it can be a much more difficult thing to accomplish. Changing a few habits at a time such as the addition of more physical activity combined with a bit more healthy eating will help you to make the transition. Making an additional healthy decision each month may not speed up the weight loss process, but it can help to make it a lifestyle change.

Source: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/obesity/lose_wt/risk.htm

The information supplied in this article is not to be considered as medical advice and is for educational purposes only.