Health is an important investment, and BMI is a good way to see progress - and changes in the health department. BMI is a number that represents the ratio between a person's weight and height. As a screening tool, BMI does what the name implies; it helps diagnose weight types.
It can show that a person has a low, normal, high, or very high risk for many diseases. It can show if someone is overweight, underweight, or ideal weight. This number can be a good way to determine risk factors in people. With a helpful number and steps to improve health, BMI is a great tool for people who want to focus on their health. As children and adolescents are still growing, BMI will only give accurate figures for adults, and continuous growth in children makes it difficult to set BMI cutoffs.
BMI is the ratio between a person's weight and height. For example, if a person weighs 70 kg and is 1.78 m tall, the calculation is 70 ÷ (1.78 x 1.78) = 22.09. A healthy adult has an optimal BMI of around 18.5. This is not to say that every adult should get the same 18.5. As BMI changes, so do "final" health risks. A grown adult should have a BMI range of between 18.5 and 24.9. The implication of this measure is body fat percentage. Individuals with a BMI of less than 18.5 are considered underweight. As such, they are at an increased risk of illness and death.
Similarly, an individual with a BMI of 25 and 29.9 is in the overweight range for adults, and a BMI range of above 30 is an indicator of obesity in adults. The critical point is that a healthy weight lies within a healthy BMI range.
BMI levels of 18.5 to 24.9 are generally considered to be in the normal weight range for an adult. Maintaining a healthy BMI requires a person to be active, eat healthily and maintain a healthy weight. Fat is the enemy, and people with high BMIs should be wary of this. There is a strong correlation between fat and increased BMI. Except for athletes, the key message is that while it is possible to have a high BMI level and still be relatively healthy, people should be wary of dire health risks. A general rule of thumb is to stay within a healthy BMI range as much as possible. It may seem presumptuous to make a direct correlation between BMI and body fat, but evidence suggests that moderate BMI levels are a good indicator of health.
A few exceptions can be made to the general BMI categories. They include:
Athletes can easily be categorized as overweight because of a large amount of muscle. Athletes often have high BMIs simply because they are fitter and require a higher caloric intake. Some people can have a high BMI and be in excellent health because of the amount of muscle they have. Because BMI is not a good indicator of changes in body composition for athletes, they are advised to use weight circumference to keep track of their overall health progress.
Children and teenagers are growing so quickly that it's hard to predict and calculate their BMIs. Unlike adults whose body measurements like height and weight remain relatively the same, children and teenagers see considerable changes. What is not appropriate for one group may be perfect for the other. As such, it is hard to define rigid BMI cutoffs for children and teenagers since they are growing quickly.
Some people also just have different body types and structures than others. This is why BMI is an indicator instead of a hard and fast rule. Not every “short” or “tall” person will have the same opportunity to add or lose weight, and that can throw off the calculation.
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