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Body Mass Index Is Not as Informative as You Think

Nowadays, it pretty much seems, like every nutritionist and doctor wants to emphasize on how important it is to monitor one’s health. Most of them are using the same system. That is, a person’s Body Mass Index (BMI) has to fall into a particular range in order to be considered healthy.

Nevertheless, there one thing that may bother you about this whole system. According to recent reports, BMI is not all that accurate as a form of measurement. Moreover, if you follow this system only, it can seriously harm you. The old-fashioned system has accumulated many critics, who are questioning its current use for people’s weight classification.

It Goes Back to the 19th Century

Adolphe Quetelet was the person behind BMI’s invention. He came up with the system back in 1800, when he was studying populations. The index was developed for studying “the normal man.” However, BMI became a worldwide body-fat percentage measurement system only in 1972. The test showed quite accurate in about 80% of all the cases, which is not bad at all. But, there were many situations, in which it was seriously incorrect, raising many questions of its universality.

How Does the BMI Work Anyway?

The system is based on a pretty simple math formula. It’s taking a person’s weight in kilos and dividing it by their height in square meters. After this, the formula places the person in a particular category. People with a BMI under 18.5 are considered undernourished. Those with a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 are considered normal. Persons with a BMI between 25 and 29.9 are considered overweight. And, lastly, individuals with a BMI over 30 are considered obese.

One significant thing to know here is that the system does not consider your muscle mass as a part of its formula. As you may know, muscles weigh quite a bit. Even though they don’t take as much physical space, as body fat, their mass will obviously change depending on how big or small they are. This is basically the reason, why your BMI can be higher, than expected and, thus, can inaccurately represent your current state of health.

This brings us to a logical question – why are we still using BMI, if it’s no good? Why aren’t we using another system or method?

Why Is BMI Still Around?

So, once again, if the system is no good as a universal tool, why are doctors and nutritionists still using it? The answer is as simple as it may be: BMI’s alternative are costly and take a lot of time, whereas the current system can be easily carried out via a simple calculator.

In addition, although there are a lot of cases, when the system fails, there are still 80% of the cases, when it’s accurate in evaluating your body composition. But there are other options to do it and some of them are honestly better.

Measuring Techniques Alternative to BMI

As it was already mentioned above, alternative options are more expensive. However, they are more accurate and are much better at measuring your body’s real composition.

Alternative #1: Skin Fold Calipers

Skin fold calipers are accurate at measuring your body’s amounts of fat by directly measuring your skin. Sounds a bit creepy, but it’s effective and precise.

Alternative #2: Abdominal Obesity

The researches have shown that abdominal obesity is frequently related to various diseases. Therefore, accurate measuring of the waist-to-hip ratio helps specialists to foretell health issues that may appear in the future. This, in turn, provides the possibility to prevent these potential issues by physical workout and proper dieting.

Alternative #3: Underwater Weighing

This alternative is truly something. Underwater weighing allows to measure body volume, fat, and density much better, than any other methods. Obviously, you can’t do it at home, like BMI, but it provides accurate and valuable information that can help solve and prevent a lot of issues.

Alternative #4: MRI Scanning

Although you may think of this option as a bit too extreme, it’s the most precise one. MRI scan can show the exact amount of your body fat, muscle, and tissue.

In case you think your weight may cause some health issues, you should see your doctor and talk to them about it. You might also want to discuss various ways of body composition monitoring with him and define the one that’s best for you. Remember that different people require different approaches. One size doesn’t always fit all.

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