What is BMI and how do we use it

Diva - 30 Dec 21

Body Mass Index (BMI) is a person’s weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in meters. A high BMI can indicate high body fatness. BMI screens for weight categories that may lead to health problems in the future, but it does not diagnose the body fatness or health of an individual.
 Body Mass Index (BMI) is a measurement of a person’s weight with respect to his or her height. It is more of an indicator than a direct measurement of a person’s total body fat.

An adult who has a BMI between 25 and 29.9 is seen as overweight - an adult who has a BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese - a BMI below 18.5 is considered underweight, and the BMI between 18.5 to 24.9 is considered a healthy weight .

BMI calculation

BMI in an individual person is calculated by the use of a mathematical formula. It can also be estimated using tables in which one can match height in meters to weight in kilograms to estimate the individuals Body Mass Index. The formula is - BMI = (Weight in kilograms) divided by (Height in metres squared)A normal BMI score is one that falls between 18.5 and 24.9. This indicates that a person is within the normal weight range for his or her height. A BMI chart is used to categorise a person as underweight, normal, overweight, or obese.

Body Mass Index (BMI)Weight Status
Below 18.5Underweight
18.5 - 24.9Normal
25.0 - 29.9Overweight
30.0 plusObese

BMI is an indicator of total body fat in many individuals. Thus it is considered as an indicator of health risk.

BMI is used by healthcare professionals to screen for overweight and obese individuals. The BMI is used to assess a persons health risks associated with obesity and overweight.

Those with a high BMI are at risk of the following:

  • high blood pressure
  • cholesterol or other lipid disorders
  • type 2 diabetes
  • heart disease
  • stroke
  • certain cancers
  • gallbladder disease
  • sleep apnea and snoring
  • premature death
  • osteoarthritis and joint disease
  • Hormonal imbalances such as leptin and ghrelin levels, insulin production etc.
BMI, however, is one of the tools that are used to calculate healthy risk. Other factors such as blood pressure, cholesterol level, blood sugar level, family history of heart disease, age, gender, waist circumference, level of physical activity, menopause status, smoking status etc. are also taken into consideration while assessing health risk.

Is BMI applicable for all?

For most people, BMI can be used to provide a good measure of obesity. But BMI fails to provide actual information on body composition like amount of muscle, bone, fat, and other tissues.

In some persons BMI is a more accurate measure of body fat than others. For example, persons who are very muscular may fall into the overweight” category when they are actually healthy and very fit. These persons with a very low body fat percentage could have the same BMI score as someone who is overweight.

Similarly, an elderly and frail individual person may be in the normal weight category when they have little muscle mass and a high percentage of body fat.

BMI, when used for children and adolescents who are still growing, those with large body frames or petite builds, pregnant women and highly muscled individuals thus need to be assessed and interpreted carefully according to their circumstances. 

Defining Obesity

Overweight and being obese are defined by the WHO as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents a risk to an individuals health.

Being Overweight and obesity are major risk factors for a number of chronic diseases, including diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer and while it was once an issue only in high income countries, overweight and obesity has now dramatically risen in low- and middle-income countries.

Obesity really is serious. One of the main reasons are because it is associated with poorer mental health outcomes and a reduced quality of life. 

Whilst the more devastating issue regarding obesity is the fact that it is the leading cause of death in most countries in our day and age.

One of the main factors we would like to include here are some helpful hints like BMI and how to calculate if it will be required for you to make some changes to your lifestyle. 

Healthy behaviours are advised and for that we would recommend including a regular physical activity regimen and healthy eating. The key is to Balance the number of calories consumed from foods and beverages with the number of calories the body uses for activity. The average needed to start making a difference to your BMI would be at least 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity activity such as brisk walking. In addition, you will need to do activities that strengthen your muscles at least 2 days a week. 

A healthy meal plan would consist of the following:

Eating whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean protein, low-fat and fat-free dairy products, and drinking water. Water is a big key and makes a world of difference. Drinking 2 - 3L of water a day will help you reach your weight loss goals and get your BMI down. 

Creating a pattern of healthy eating and regular physical activity is very important for long-term health benefits and the prevention of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Obesity results from the energy imbalance that occurs when a person consumes more calories than their body burns. Obesity is a serious public health problem. Yes ladies and gents - we get it, we really do! There are certain factors that need to be taken in consideration when we talk about the leading concerns and causes regarding obesity. There are factors we need to include such as: 

Behaviour: Your behaviour in your environment, at work and at home. 

Community Environment: You and your family may make decisions based on your environment or community. For example, a person may not walk or ride a bike to the store or to work because of a lack of sidewalks or safe bike trails. Or even the area that you live in, it might not be the right choice due to safety. Your Community, home, childcare, school, health care, and workplace settings can all influence daily behaviours. Therefore, it is very important to create your own environments that make it easier to engage in physical activity and eat healthy foods.

Genetics:Do my Genes Have a Role in Obesity?

Genetic changes in human populations occur too slowly to be responsible for the obesity epidemic that is happening in our world. Nevertheless, how people respond to an environment that promotes physical inactivity and intake of high-calorie foods suggests that genes do play a role in developing obesity.

How does Genes Have a Role in Obesity?

In recent decades, obesity has reached epidemic proportions in populations whose environments promote physical inactivity and increased consumption of high-calorie foods. The good news is, not all people living in such environments will become obese, nor will all obese people have the same body fat distribution or suffer the same health problems. These differences can be seen in groups of people with the same racial or ethnic background and even within families.

How Could  My Genes Actually Influence Obesity?

Genes give the body instructions for responding to changes in its environment. That means that Variants in several genes may contribute to obesity by increasing hunger and that leads to more food intake.

Rarely, a clear pattern of inherited obesity within a family is caused by a specific variant of a single gene (monogenic obesity). Most obesity, results from complex interactions among multiple genes and environmental factors that remain poorly understood (multifactorial obesity).

There have been Studies of resemblances and differences among family members, twins, and adoptees that offer indirect scientific evidence that a sizeable portion of the variation in weight among adults is due to genetic factors. 

Other studies have compared obese and non-obese people for variation in genes that could influence behaviours (such as a drive to overeat when you are out at a restaurant or sitting on your couch, or a tendency to be sedentary) or the metabolism (such as the diminished capacity to use dietary fats as fuel, or an increased tendency to store body fat). These studies that have been done have identified variants in several genes.

All explanations of the obesity epidemic has to consider both factors of genetics and the environment these people are in.

One explanation that is often cited is the mismatch between todays environment and energy-thrifty genes” that multiplied in the distant past, when food sources were unpredictable. In other words, according to the thrifty genotype” hypothesis, the same genes that helped our ancestors survive occasional famines are now being challenged by environments in which food is plentiful all year round. Other hypotheses have been proposed including a role for the gut microbiome as well as early life exposures associated with epigenetic changes.

What about  my Family History?

Health care practitioners routinely collect family health history to help identify people at high risk of obesity-related diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and some forms of cancer. Your Family health history reflects the effects of shared genetics and environments among close relatives. 

Families cannot change their genes, but they can encourage healthy eating habits and physical activity. Those changes can most definitely improve the health of your family members—and improve the health history of the next generation.

Diseases and Drugs

Some illnesses may lead to obesity or weight gain. These may include Cushings syndrome, and polycystic ovarian syndrome. Drugs such as steroids and some antidepressants may also cause weight gain. Research continues on the role of other factors in energy balance and weight gain such as chemical exposures and the role of the microbiome.

A health care provider can help you learn more about your health habits and history to identify whether behaviours, illnesses, medications, and/or psychological factors are contributing to weight gain or making your weight loss journey difficult.

At the end of the day, we need to look at the health consequences of being obese

Health Consequences

People who have obesity, compared to those with a healthy weight, are at increased risk for many serious diseases and health conditions and All-causes of death (mortality)

  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • High LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, or high levels of triglycerides (Dyslipidemia)
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Osteoarthritis (a breakdown of cartilage and bone within a joint)
  • Sleep apnea and breathing problems
  • Low quality of life
  • Many types of cancers
  • Mental illness such as clinical depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders
  • Body pain and difficulty with physical functioning

Economic and Societal Consequences

Obesity and its associated health problems have a significant economic impact on the health care system, including direct and indirect costs. Direct medical costs may include preventive, diagnostic, and treatment services. Indirect costs relate to sickness and death and include lost productivity. Productivity measures include employees being absent from work for obesity-related health reasons, decreased productivity while at work, and premature death and disability.

We hope we have given a clear image of BMI, what it is used for and how to calculate it correctly to establish if you fall under a normal weight range or classify as obese or being over weight.

If you want to lose weight and regain your confidence, call us today to book your appointment for ultrasound liposuction, the treatment is safe, pain free and our treatment gives proven results. 

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