Body mass Index, otherwise called BMI is the key indicator of estimating the total fat content in an individual’s body. Before we go into the implications of BMI, we must first understand how to calculate BMI, what exactly the concept of BMI is and how it is useful.
BMI in simple terms is a ratio. It is arrived at by dividing the weight of an individual in kilograms, divided by the square of the height in meters.
BMI = Weight of the individual (in kilograms)/ [Height of the individual (in meters)]2
For example, when a person weight 70 kilograms and has a height of 172 cm ( or 1.72 m) then the individual’s BMI is 172/(1.72)2= 23.7
Although BMI is not the best indicator of overall health, it is useful in determining the fat percentage for normal individuals. A BMI value less than 18.5 means that a person is undernourished or underweight. A BMI value between 18.5 to 24.9 means that the person is normal and healthy. Individuals with a BMI between 25 and 29.9 are considered overweight, while individuals with a BMI over 30 are considered obese. Even in obesity, there are different levels based on the figure arrived at by BMI calculations.
Therefore in the previous example discussed, the individual is healthy, since the BMI value of 23.7 lies between 18.5 and 24.9.
When a person is in the overweight or obese range, there is an increased risk to health. Being overweight and obese means that such individuals are susceptible to a number of health conditions like
Similarly, when a person has low BMI, there is increased risk of
Hence, it is necessary to maintain the correct BMI. However, it is important to remember that BMI does not differentiate between body fat and muscle mass. Hence, it is not a correct indicator in the case of extremely short and extremely tall people, individuals with disabilities, body builders and athletes. Also, the BMI cut off for obesity differs between ethnicities.
How is one to ensure that one is fit and healthy? How to maintain correct BMI? What to do in case one is overweight or obese? What is the best method to achieve a balanced BMI given that my job is sedentary in nature? How can I get the motivation to exercise?
These are al some of the common questions various individuals ask themselves.
The best way to achieve a good BMI is by eating a balanced diet and by regular physical exercise. Fat builds up in the body only when the calorie intake exceeds the calories burnt. Hence, it is best to avoid overeating or under eating at all times. A good wellness institute, certified dieticians and nutrition experts can help individuals by analysing their unique needs and lifestyles and recommend the best method.
Always remember, crash dieting or excess exercise is never the correct way to achieve a good BMI!