BMI are three letters we hear about a lot in relation to our health. They stand for Body Mass Index. The name itself can be a bit confusing. Rather than working out your mass, it works out your weight, relative to your height. There is a difference (we think). It’s easy enough to check your own BMI using graphs you can find on the internet. Or if you’re visiting your doctor they can check it for you really easily.
We’ve all heard someone say this before. Muscle doesn’t actually weigh more than fat but it is more dense. This means that a pound of muscle would take up less space in your body than a pound of fat.
If you do have loads of muscle, lucky you, but your BMI number will probably be higher than average. If you’re an athlete your BMI is likely to tell you that you’re overweight or even obese. In general it’s a good judge of whether you need to be concerned that you weight is increasing your risk of health problems. But if you are really athletic and have muscle it won’t work for you. It’s also doesn’t work for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Apples and pears, no, we haven’t become cockney and we aren’t talking about fruit. People generally fall into one of two body shape categories. If you’ve got an apple shape it means that you store weight around the middle. If you’re a pear shape you store fat around your hips and thighs.
If you are an apple shape you’re at more risk of developing nasties like heart disease and diabetes, than a pear shape. This doesn’t mean your BMI is wrong but you really need to be aware of where you’re carrying the extra weight if you are. You don’t want it all to go pear shaped, or should we say apple shaped.
If you’re worried about your BMI, go to your GP and they can check it for you. For more information on obesity, Click Here for the clinic page.
So, rather than just measuring our weight, the tool takes into account how tall we are. Your height will obviously affect how much you weigh. If you’re taller there’s more of you and, if you’re smaller, there’s less.
Imagine there are two people. One’s 5 foot and the other is 6 foot. If they both weigh the same we know that they don’t have the same shape or probably the same health. It’s easy to understand put like this, isn’t it?
BMI is great for spotting patterns about the health risks of having a high or low weight in relation to your height. Loads of people can be studied with one little equation. This means that the smart scientists can work out the link between a high relative weight and health problems or diseases. That’s pretty cool.
Some people are concerned that categorisations are too strict. People fall into three categories, one of which is ‘normal’. One question we always seem to be asking here at Doctor Wellgood is ‘what is normal’? Or who is normal? As such BMI can be limited in the way that it doesn’t take into account other weight, like muscle.
A BMI lower than 18.5 is considered underweight. Being underweight doesn’t mean that you have an eating disorder; sometimes you can lose weight without even noticing it. That said, the BMI is used a lot when doctors are diagnosing eating disorders where they use it to monitor the risk level to overall health.
If you’re underweight when you’re young it can lead to osteoporosis because it affects your bone density. It can also lead to fertility, growth, and concentration problems. You’ll probably be lacking some important nutrients which will make you feel tired and lower your immune system. That means you’ll be more prone to colds and other viruses.
If your BMI is over 25 you’re considered overweight, over 30 is classified obese. With extra weight your risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes is increased. Shedding some pounds can really lower your chance of getting these health problems.
Even if your BMI falls into the category considered ‘normal’ (whatever normal is) it doesn’t mean that you should eat loads of rubbish and not exercise. You’ll find you have more energy if you’re living a healthy lifestyle. If you’re not you could also be increasing your health risks.