BMI Body Mass Index – is it an accurate measure of healthy weight?

BMI Body Mass Index- Accurate or misleading?

Recent research has revealed just how different people with the same BMI Body Mass Index can look and calls into question the medical profession’s reliance on it as a measure of health.

BMI Body Mass Index – is simply your weight in kgs divided by your height in metres, squared

  • A BMI Body Mass Index of between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered healthy;
  • below 18.5 is considered underweight;
  • between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight;
  • between 30 and 34.9 is considered obese;
  • and greater than this is considered “significantly”
  • and then morbidly obese.
BMI Body Mass Index


What BMI Body Mass Index doesn’t take into account is that muscle weighs more than fat. As a result, athletic people, with a good muscle mass, could be classified as overweight or even obese in terms of their BMI Body Mass Index!

In the 10-weeks weight loss program of zest4life I run in Ealing, in Week One when we are setting goals, we have a brief discussion about BMI Body Mass Index and what is considered to be desirable. But this is only one measure for healthy weight.

I weigh my weight loss clients every week, and my scales also measure body fat percentage and hydration levels.

Lowering body fat has to be a health goal, and it also allows me to identify those who have a healthier body fat ratio, and who are exercising and maintaining good levels of muscle.

Where our fat is stored is also very important. Visceral adipose tissue (VAT), that is fat which is stored around our middle, is associated with heart disease and other chronic illnesses such as diabetes. Losing fat around the middle should also be a health goal. For this reason, we take waist measurements as part of zest4life.

Waist to hip ratio is a means of tracking the extent of your Visceral adipose tissue (VAT) fat.

To find out your ratio simply divide your waist by your hip measurement.

A waist to hip ratio of 1.0 or greater for men,

and greater than 0.85 for women is considered to be unhealthy.

A recent development in using body measurements to track health status, has seen this very simple calculation put forward by scientists at Oxford Brookes University: your waist measurement should be less than half your height. Studies have shown that a person is at a lower risk from heart disease if their waist measurement is less than half their height.

It is not useful or accurate to rely on one mean of measuring “overweight”. We need to use a range of markers to determine whether weight is a problem, as well as using a range of markers to monitor progress and sustain motivation.

Pregnant belly with hands isolated on white
And finally, another thing that I take issue with is the lower end of the BMI Body Mass Index scale.

As someone who is concerned with women’s health, I worry about underweight women who are trying to conceive. Women with a BMI of less than 22 may struggle to conceive. In fact, their bodies may be under stress due to a lack of energy reserves. Also, the ensuing hormone imbalance may not permit conception.

Interestingly when farmers are preparing their cattle for breeding, they fatten up their cows, knowing that this leads to greater conception rates. Alarmingly as humans, women who are trying to conceive are often equally concerned with weight loss!

And another concern is that women who are underweight are more likely to develop osteoporosis in later life.

So let’s ditch one measure for gauging healthy weight. Let’s use a range of markers, whilst taking into account the dangers of being too light or too heavy.

Are you concerned about your weight and want to find out if you have a healthy body weight? Or would you like to know how nutritional therapy can assist you with any health problems? Please contact me directly.
I am also a zest4life private weight loss coach and run weekly weight loss program classes that help clients lose weight in a healthy and sustainable way.
You can join a class at any moment.

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