What You Need to Know About Body Mass Index (BMI)

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Keeping your body at a healthy weight is extremely important for various reasons. A healthy body allows you to live your life to the fullest and with greater peace of mind. Healthy body weight also enables you to reduce the risk of certain medical conditions that are more likely to occur when someone’s body is of a higher weight.

Many factors contribute to one’s body weight, including your environment, family history, genetics, metabolism, stress, eating habits, medication, etc. While some of these factors are out of your control, like family history, there are things you can do to help reduce your body’s weight, which we have outlined below.

Below you’ll also find information about body mass index, how it relates to your overall health, and the various conditions that can arise due to higher body weight.

What is Body Mass Index?

If you’ve ever heard the term Body Mass Index (BMI) but aren’t sure what it means, we are here to help. Body Mass Index is a measurement used to help calculate how much extra weight your body carries.

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It’s important to note that BMI is not an exact science, and it does not distinguish between a person’s body fat and muscle mass. So, while you may have a higher BMI, it doesn’t automatically mean you are unhealthy. However, you should consider other factors once you have your BMI. For example, you don’t want to cause yourself undue stress due to a high BMI that may be unrelated to excess fat.

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How to Calculate Your BMI

If you want to calculate your BMI on your own, the formula to do so is as follows:

Weight (lb) / [height (in)]2 (squared) x 703 (conversion factor).

If you prefer to use an online calculator, heres one you can use to calculate your BMI quickly.

Flaws Associated With Body Mass Index

While calculating your BMI may give people an idea of how healthy their bodies are, some flaws with the formula need to be mentioned.

For example, according to an article published in Scientific American, there are many professional athletes, like Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt, and NFL quarterback Tom Brady, who are technically classified as overweight because their BMI is high. However, the reality is these athletes are fit and have a lot of muscle mass.

The Body Mass Index also does not consider the different body types of other ethnicities. The formula is based on a Caucasian’s measurements. It may give an inaccurate representation of someone’s size if it doesn’t fit into the mold of an ideal Caucasian BMI.

In addition, certain medical conditions are more prevalent in certain ethnic groups regardless of their BMI. What that means is if another ethnicity’s BMI is considered within a healthy range for a Caucasian person, because of that ethnicity’s predisposition for certain medical conditions, a low BMI may not be indicative of a healthy person.

In fact, some researchers have found that Asians have certain health conditions at a lower BMI than other ethnicities may. That is why a person’s health can not be solely determined by a BMI that falls within a healthy range.

What Are the BMI Ranges?

Per the CDC website, the different BMI ranges are below:

  • 18.5<: Below normal BMI
  • 18.5 – 24.9: Normal BMI
  • 25 – 29.9: Overweight
  • 30 and higher: Obese

The obesity range can be broken down even further.

  • Class 1: 30 to under 35
  • Class 2: 35 to under 40
  • Class 3: 40 or higher: This class is considered morbidly obese.

Health Risks Associated with a Higher BMI

Certain health risks could develop over time for those with a higher BMI who don’t have muscle mass and have more body fat. A higher BMI does not definitively indicate you will develop the risks below. Still, there is more risk associated with a higher BMI.

1. Coronary Heart Disease

Our heart keeps us alive, and we need it to stay healthy. Unfortunately, there is an increased risk of developing coronary heart disease (CAD) for those with a high BMI.

This disease occurs when plaque builds up in your arteries, causing them to not only narrow but reduce blood flow to your heart, as well. It can also cause the walls of the blood vessels to harden and become inflamed. In some instances, a clot can form and obstruct blood flow.

You can manage the disease by eating healthier, losing weight, quitting smoking, and getting more exercise. There are also medications that doctors can prescribe to help prevent CAD from progressing. In some instances, though, surgery is required.

2. Obstructive Sleep Apnea

A higher BMI may indicate you’re carrying extra fat on your neck. More fat on the neck can make it harder to breathe correctly at night, which can lead to snoring or your breathing stopping for a few seconds at a time. This condition is known as obstructive sleep apnea. If left untreated, it can lead to pulmonary hypertension, a type of high blood pressure.

3. High Blood Pressure

Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, happens when your blood flows through your blood vessels with more force than it usually does. When this happens, it puts strain on your heart.

It also damages blood vessels and raises your risk of developing kidney disease. You could also have a heart attack or stroke. In some cases, death may occur if left untreated.

However, there are steps you can take to lower blood pressure. For example, you can eat healthier by reducing your sodium, caffeine, and alcohol intake to help you lose weight. In addition, you can also exercise more, quit smoking, reduce your stress, monitor your blood pressure, and take any medication prescribed to you.

4. Osteoarthritis

If your BMI is over 25, you may deal with stiff joints or a condition known as osteoarthritis (OA). OA can lead to cartilage breaking down in your weight-bearing joints, like ankles, knees, and hips.

In addition, you may also experience pain and swelling, which can be debilitating. If left untreated, some people may have to undergo joint replacement surgery.

5. Fatty Liver Disease

When excess fat builds up in your liver, it leads to a condition known as fatty liver disease. This is often diagnosed after blood tests are run and show elevated liver enzymes that can’t be traced to an infection or medication you’ve been prescribed. Some doctors may order an abdominal ultrasound to confirm their suspicion of fatty liver disease.

If left untreated, fatty liver disease will worsen, and you will experience decreased liver function. Over time this can lead to scarring of the liver, known as cirrhosis.

6. Type 2 Diabetes

This condition occurs when your blood glucose gets too high. Not everyone with type 2 diabetes develops it because they are overweight. However, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, about 8 out of 10 people end up developing the condition due to being overweight or obese.

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If you’ve been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, don’t fret. You can reverse this condition by losing 5 to 7% of your body weight.

What to Do If You Have a High BMI

If you have a high BMI, there are several things you can do to improve your health and help drop your BMI to a healthier number.

1. Lose Weight

This recommendation is self-explanatory, but dropping your BMI can improve your overall health, even by a couple of numbers.

Remember, you need to consume fewer calories than you burn. Don’t start out by cutting calories by a drastic amount, especially if you’re used to consuming a significant amount of calories per day.

2. Get More Exercise

If you aren’t used to getting much physical activity, it can be hard to get up and get moving. So start out slowly by going for short walks, using hand weights, and going for short bike rides.

If you need extra motivation, you can exercise with a workout buddy who can help hold you accountable. You can also sign up for a gym membership and work with a fitness instructor.

3. Eat More Healthy Foods

A healthy diet shouldn’t include junk foods like potato chips, processed meats, red meats, or sugary beverages. However, your diet should consist of more fruit, veggies, whole grains, nuts, and yogurt.

Stay Connected and Learn More About Health-Related Topics

We believe that knowledge is power, so we hope that our site helps you feel like you’re in control of your own health and what the future holds for your body. is there for those who want to calculate their current BMI and take charge of their health today. In addition to the BMI calculator features on their site, you will also find more in-depth info on BMI, gyms, healthy eating, etc.

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