When you’re struggling with your weight, three letters put together can have an enormous influence — BMI. While calculating your body mass index can provide valuable information, it’s far from a conclusive evaluation of your overall health and wellness.
As bariatric experts, our team here at Weight Loss Institute of Arizona is very clear on the proper use of BMI calculations — what they can tell us, as well as what they can’t.
To help you better understand your BMI, we’ve pulled together some myths and facts surrounding this calculation.
Before we get started, let’s quickly review how BMI numbers break out:
Now, let’s dive a little deeper into these calculations.
When you calculate your BMI, you enter your height and your weight (and sometimes your gender). The calculator does the rest and spits out a number. This number isn’t an accurate measurement of your body fat, but, rather, a screening tool that gives you a general idea about how you compare to the general population.
If you want to truly measure the amount of fat in your body, you should come see us so we can give you a more accurate measurement.
Where the BMI can come in handy is when we measure extreme problems with weight, either on the underweight side or the obesity side. Any BMI over 30 is categorized as obese, but the closer you are to 30, the more gray areas there can be with this calculation. Conversely, if your BMI starts to approach 40, the obesity categorization is likely correct.
Perhaps you measure 6 feet, 6 inches or you’re under 5 feet. In either height direction, BMI calculations tend to portray an increasingly inaccurate picture.
Tall people often have BMIs that place them in the overweight or obese categories, even though they are neither.
On the other end of the spectrum, BMI calculations among shorter people may erroneously lead them to believe that they fall within normal or underweight ranges when they are, in fact, carrying too much body fat.
While carrying extra weight can place you more at risk for some very serious conditions, such as cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes, some people with high BMIs are perfectly healthy.
It’s also worth pointing out that people with so-called healthy BMI numbers are far from immune to the health issues that are usually attributed to heavier people.
If you have a BMI calculation that’s 25 or over, but you’re fit and you certainly don’t look heavy, that’s because the weight of your muscles isn’t part of your BMI calculation. And if you have larger bones or high bone density, your BMI may be higher even though you’re not carrying extra fat.
The bottom line is that a BMI calculation provides us with a good jumping off point when it comes to determining whether you’re carrying unhealthy weight, but it’s just a starting point.
We take much more into consideration when we evaluate our patients, such as current health, family history, and body makeup.
If you’d like to move past the BMI to determine whether your weight is problematic, contact one of our Arizona locations in Tempe, Glendale, Mesa, Tucson, or Phoenix, to set up a consultation.