Is the BMI the Best Tool to Gauge Whether I'm Overweight?

Is the BMI the Best Tool to Gauge Whether I'm Overweight?

Body mass index (BMI) is one way we estimate body fat and provide guidance for weight management recommendations. However, BMI has some disadvantages and isn’t perfect, but it is a good way to determine if you’re overweight. 

Internal medicine physician and weight loss specialist Prabhdeep Singh uses various tools, including BMI, to estimate your body fat. Visiting a health care provider for an evaluation is the best way to know if you’re overweight. A healthy BMI is 18.5 to 24.9. You’re considered overweight if your BMI is 25 to 29.9, and obesity is classified as a BMI of 30 or above.

If you’re concerned about your weight, schedule a visit with Dr. Singh. 

What is BMI?

BMI is a calculation that uses your weight and height to estimate your body fat. It’s calculated by multiplying your weight in kilograms by your height in meters squared. 

When determining if you're a healthy weight, healthcare providers often consider other indicators in addition to your BMI.

Disadvantages of BMI

Because BMI is a simple formula, it doesn’t consider some factors that may make it less accurate for certain individuals. The BMI formula doesn’t consider the following:

How much muscle you have: Even if you are healthy, the more muscle you have, the higher your BMI will be.

Size of your frame: A person with a large frame has a higher BMI, even if they are otherwise healthy.

Gender: Women often have greater body fat than males with the same BMI.

Age: An older person will often have more fat than a younger person with the same BMI.

If you're an athlete: Athletes, on average, have less body fat than non-athletes with the same BMI.

Your BMI is considered and used along with other factors to determine if you’re overweight. 

Who shouldn’t rely solely on BMI

BMI is less accurate for bodybuilders, long-distance runners, pregnant women, seniors, and young children. This is because BMI does not consider how much of your body weight is composed of water, muscle, and fat. However, most people concerned about their weight rarely fall into these categories, making BMI a reliable tool. 

Other ways of estimating body fat

The following are other ways to determine if you’re overweight:

Waist-to-height ratio

The waist-to-height ratio measures waist circumference to height rather than overall weight to height squared. Because it takes central fat into account, the waist-to-height ratio is more accurate than BMI. Central fat is essential since it collects around the organs in your midsection and is strongly linked to diseases like heart disease.

Calipers

Skinfold calipers estimate total body fat by measuring fat directly beneath the skin (subcutaneous). 

Measuring various spots on your body, such as your back and stomach, can provide a good estimate.

People who choose medically-supervised weight loss programs tend to lose more weight and keep it off long-term. To find out how we can help you manage your weight, call our El Centro office to schedule an appointment with Dr. Singh or book online at your convenience. We look forward to helping you lose weight and keep it off for good!

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