If you’ve ever asked the Internet gods, “what is my body mass index?,” you know about the abundance of BMI calculators available to inquiring minds. By entering just your height and weight, the calculator will tell you what your BMI is and whether you fall into the underweight, normal weight, overweight, or obese categories.
Upon entering mine, I’m informed that my weight is normal. Great! I check my husband’s stats next: 5’9”, 175 pounds. My athletic, rugby playing, gym-rat husband is – OVERWEIGHT? When the BMI calculator calls the most fit person I’ve ever known overweight, I start to question its validity.
So, why do reputable health organizations like the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) promote BMI as a useful tool in the fight against obesity? Here are 4 reasons why the experts say BMI is important:
- BMI is a fairly reliable indicator of body fatness in most people (‘most’ being the operative word.)
- It’s an easy and inexpensive way to assess the general weight of the entire population, so it allows individuals to see how they compare to the general public.
- While the correlation between body fat and BMI varies by sex, race, and age, it’s still fairly strong. Very muscular people are an example of who might have a skewed BMI due to muscle weighing more than fat.
- It’s used in conjunction with other assessments, including measuring a person’s waist circumference and checking for signs of obesity-related diseases, like high-blood pressure and diabetes.
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Sources: cdc.gov and nhlbisupport.com