Is BMI reliable to know about one’s health?
By Vishwanthar on Health
September 15, 2009
The answer to the above question is a definite NO. Body mass Index (BMI) cannot be relied to measures ones health for concrete reasons. BMI doesn’t differentiate between an individual who is carrying excessive fat (obesity) and a person who is carrying more muscle. Before delving on the question whether carrying more muscle does make a difference than carrying fat, let us discuss about BMI.
BMI is measured by considering the weight of the person divided by the square of his or her height in meters. I just found that there are many website which help us in calculating the BMI. It is not even necessary to memorize the formula, and I found that my BMI is 22.5 which is normal . Perhaps, you are wondering why I didn’t consider calculating my BMI all these years though being in the fitness field for more than a decade. I will state why fitness trainers don’t consider BMI to be the essential factor for measuring once health. In addition, Let’s see what the BMI has to claim: a person with the BMI of 30 or more is generally considered obese; a person with a BMI equal to or more than 25 is considered over weight; likewise, a person with a BMI less than 18.5 is considered underweight and a person with a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered to be of normal weight. Also, we can hear individuals claiming their health to be perfect, for their BMI would be between the normal range (18.5-24.9), and they think it to be the bench mark for perfect health.
On the contrary, relying on BMI alone for measuring ones health cannot be trusted, for the simple reason that, for example, an elite power lifter or a heavy weight boxer who is massively built will be termed as obese. As stated above, BMI doesn’t distinguish between adipose and muscle tissue. Moreover, we see that the standard formula for calculating BMI doesn’t take into consideration all other factors related to the individuals health and wellness. Body fat percent, blood and lipid profile, hypertension, high blood glucose, family history of premature heart diseases, cigarette smoking and last but not the least physical inactivity should be considered for us to get an unequivocal opinion. Also, it is well known that carrying more muscle is beneficial in many ways. Resistance training builds muscle which in turn raises the basal metabolic rate which causes you to burn more calories 24 hours a day. Carrying more muscle through resistance training can reverse the natural decline in your metabolism which begins around age 30. Carrying more muscle also strengthens your bones reducing the risk of developing osteoporosis. These are the few benefits of carrying more muscle. For further reference on the topic of how carrying more muscle in beneficial you can read my post titled Better Late Than Never in my blog. Moreover, the above mentioned athletes who are all massively built and their BMI measuring more than 30 doesn’t indicate them to be excessively fat and this factor alone should not be taken at face value. The huge physique these athletes build is a resultant of heavy resistance training which would have lead to the increased muscle mass.
On the contrary, you should all know that carrying excessive fat (obese) is a major risk factor for suffering from diabetes, blood pressure, heart diseases, high cholesterol, renal failure, stroke, colon cancer, etc. Obesity is defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents the risk to health. To add to our grievances there is another disease which should also be included in the probable list of diseases caused by obesity: Pancreatic cancer.
Pancreas is a large organ that lies horizontally beneath the stomach. It secretes enzymes that aids in digestion and importantly secretes the hormone insulin which helps to regulate sugar metabolism. The flip side of suffering from pancreatic cancer is that it is seldom known in the early stages. Moreover, the disease spreads rapidly which is major reason for leading cause in cancer death. In a study conducted on pancreatic cancer it was known that among 754 healthy people, the ones who were obese were at an increased risk of pancreatic cancer.
What is the take home message? Never take health for granted and stop discussing about BMI to be the be all and end all means towards good health. Physical inactivity and over eating are the two main reasons for being obese. SO, STOP BEING LAZY. BUT BE LEAN.