Understanding about BMI and its impact


Modern technology has resulted in the higher sophistication of our lifestyle. It has made our lives much easier. With this tremendous growth, the need for advancement in health was the need of the hour, and many research and studies were initiated to aid in improving the health and well-being of humans. One such example was coining the term Body Mass Index (BMI) as a quick way to know if the person is having a healthy weight or not.

What is BMI?

Though the foundation for BMI was laid as early as the nineteenth century, the term BMI was coined in the year 1972 by Ancel Keys. BMI is a tool that is an indicator of relative obesity. It is an index that tells the extent of how far an individual’s body weight gets deviated from the expected value of weight for that person’s height. The BMI value is obtained by dividing the weight of a person in kilograms divided by the square of the height of that particular person in meters. A factor of 703 is multiplied if the value of weight and height are substituted in pounds and inches respectively. BMI is expressed in kg/m2.

Interpretation of BMI:

Generally, a BMI range of 18.5 to 23 kg/m2 is accepted as a normal range all over the world while WHO allows the range to extend to 24.9 kg/m2 for an individual and median body index of 21 to 23 kg/m2 for an adult population. The following table gives us a glimpse of different categories based on our BMI value

S.NO BMI (in kg/m2) Category
1 Less than 18.5 Underweight
2 18.5 to 24.9 Normal (healthy weight)
3 25 to 29.9 Overweight
4 30.0 to 34.9 Obesity I
5 35.0 to 39.9 Obesity II
6 40.0 and above Obesity III

                            Source: WHO (2000)

BMI is only an appropriate indicator for measuring obesity because it has been found to give varied results for people with more muscle weight than fat, classifying them under the obese category. Nevertheless, it is still in use due to its simplicity.

Waist Circumference:

Apart from BMI, measuring waist circumference is seen as a better indicator of total body fat as it gives a clear prediction of visceral fat. General studies suggest having a waist measurement of less than half of that individual height to be an ideal one. These studies also suggest that waist circumference of more than 40 inches for men and 35 inches for women increases the risk of getting affected by diseases caused due to obesity, thereby decreasing the chances of long life.

Importance of measuring BMI:

Though BMI is an appropriate indicator of adiposity, it tells us the ill effects to be faced when a person exceeds the normal range. Study shows that people above the normal category are at higher risks of getting affected by type II diabetes, Coronary artery disease, Hypertension, Gallbladder disease, Stroke, and risks of breast, prostate, colon, kidney, and endometrium due to their direct correlation with obesity. One must understand the baleful effects of obesity as an estimated 2.8 million people die every year as a result of being overweight as per Global Health Observatory data. It’s high time that we start following a proper diet and healthy lifestyle to get rid of chronic disease and have an increased chance of greater longevity.

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