Over just a few decades, the global rate of obesity throughout the world has increased significantly.
Recently, obesity was declared a global epidemic, linked to some of the most severe diseases that are causing premature death.
Anyone who is health-conscious, whether a healthy person with a good weight or an obese person trying to lose some of those extra pounds, has heard the word BMI.
This is a measurement that is often used as an indicator to determine whether a person has an appropriate weight.
We will take a closer look at what exactly BMI is, how a person’s BMI is linked to their health, and how an individual can reach and maintain a healthy BMI.
What Is BMI?
The term BMI is certainly not something new. It has been used for years as a way of determining if a person’s current body weight is “healthy” compared to factors such as their weight.
BMI stands for Body Mass Index. There are several classifications that a person can fall into once they have calculated their measurements.
The first step for a person to truly understand how BMI would have an impact on their life is to learn how to calculate their own Body Mass Index. The calculation is quite simple.
The calculation requires two measurements of the person. This includes their current weight, as well as their height. When both of these measurements have been obtained, calculating BMI is quite easy.
Here’s a quick overview of the BMI formula:
Kg/m2 = BMI
The weight measurement should be in kilograms for this particular calculation. The height measurement should be in meters. The calculation takes the person’s weight in kilograms and divides it by their weight squared.
As an example, a person who weighs 80kg and has a height of 1.8 meters would have a BMI of 24.7.
Those individuals who find it challenging to calculate on their own should look for a BMI calculator online. There are many of these BMI calculators that can help allow the person to get a reading of their BMI. Most of these calculators will also tell the person in which category the resulting BMI falls.
The categories that BMI is classified into include:
- BMI that falls under 18.5 is classified as underweight.
- BMI that falls between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered a normal, healthy weight.
- BMI that falls between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight.
- BMI that is over 30 is considered obese.
It should be noted that some experts also classify additional categories for those individuals who have a BMI that is over 35. In most cases, these people will be referred to as severely obese or morbidly obese. This is the most dangerous level of BMI to have.
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BMI And Diabetes
BMI is a direct calculation of the ratio between weight and height and can provide a person with details on whether there is too much excess fat in their body. This is why BMI is often something that people with diabetes will have measured.
A strong link exists between high BMI and diabetes. This is is due to the impact that obesity has on the body’s ability to regulate the release of insulin, as well as the absorption and utilization of glucose in the bloodstream.
Several studies have also provided evidence that there does exist a strong link between a person’s BMI and their likelihood of being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
An excellent example of such a study was published in the Southern Medical Journal. Researchers at Southeast Missouri State University conducted the research. The goal was to determine how strong the link was between BMI and diabetes.
The Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey data was utilized to provide more accurate data on this particular association.
A total of 14,657 patient profiles were analyzed by the researchers to collect data on the topic.
Here’s an overview of some findings that were reported in the study:
- There is a double increase in the risk of diabetes mellitus among women with a BMI that is higher than 40, compared to a woman with a BMI that is under 25.
- The risk of experiencing lower extremity complications due to diabetes was significantly higher among patients who had a BMI that exceeded 40.
- Complications related to the renal system, particularly the kidneys, were also found to increase greatly as the BMI of the individual increased.
- Cerebrovascular complications caused by diabetes were also much higher in those with a higher BMI
Additionally, the researchers also mentioned that the risk of cardiovascular complications was much higher when the individual had a BMI that signaled too much excess fat that has accumulated in their body.
With this in mind, it also essential to take note of the fact that the increased risk of diabetes, along with the health effects of obesity, increases the likeliness that the person will experience potentially life-threatening complications associated with the disease.
Why Does Healthy BMI Matter?
A BMI higher than 25, indicating a state of being overweight, is not only associated with diabetes.
Overweight and obesity are considered health epidemics and are a leading cause of chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
People need to understand what risks they are exposed to when their BMI reaches higher than 25. This especially becomes a concern when the BMI level of a person reaches for 30 – which would classify them as being obese.
Obesity is linked to conditions such as the following:
- High blood pressure, also known as hypertension
- Heart disease
- Sleep apnea
- Fatty liver disease
- Kidney disease
- Type 2 diabetes, as we have previously noted
In fact, all conditions that fall under the collective term metabolic syndrome have been linked to a high BMI – particularly in patients who are considered to be obese.
In men, obesity may lead to issues with the reproductive tract. In fact, the complications that obesity causes, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, could have a direct impact on a man’s erectile function. This is why it is not uncommon for an obese man to experience erectile dysfunction.
Certain types of cancers have also been linked to obesity. Additionally, there is also a higher risk of suffering a stroke, as well as a heart attack among patients who are obese.
While the emphasis is often placed on a high BMI, leading to obesity and several complications, it is important not to overlook the potential impact that a low BMI might also have. When a person has a BMI that falls below 18.5, they are considered underweight.
Being underweight can be just as harmful to the body. It leads to an increased risk of malnutrition and anemia.
Vitamin deficiencies are also widespread among underweight people. This has also been linked to several problems – since vitamins, minerals, and other minerals play critical functions in every cell within the human body.
Additional complications that have been associated with a low BMI, or being underweight, include:
- The immune system becomes weaker, which means it is unable to fight effectively against diseases and infections.
- A deficiency in calcium and vitamin D is likely to occur, which can lead to osteoporosis.
- Women may experience irregular menstrual cycles, which may increase the risk of fertility problems.
- Individuals who are underweight and need to undergo a surgical procedure may have a higher risk of complications caused by the surgery as well.
It should also be noted that when a child or teenager is underweight, they may also experience developmental and growth problems.
Criticism On BMI
Some medical experts have criticized the significant emphasis that is often placed on measuring a person’s “health” or determining if a person is at a “healthy weight” through the use of the BMI calculation.
The main reason for this is because only two measurements are taken into account when BMI is calculated.
The two measurements, as we have explained earlier, include height and weight. While height is a fixed factor in a person, weight is variable. BMI does not take into account certain factors that may have an impact on the person’s weight – but instead accepts this measurement as it is.
With weight, it is important to note that fat accumulation is not the only factor that contributes to an increase in body weight. Muscle also contributes to the weight of a person.
For this reason, a person might find that their BMI is higher than 25, but this may not necessarily due to excess fat that is present in their body. It could be due to time spent in the gym and through the use of specific techniques that have helped the individual experience a gain in lean muscle mass.
What Is The Waist Circumference?
Waist circumference is a common measurement taken in addition to BMI. It refers to the measurement around the waist area – a measurement tape needs to be placed in a level position at the belly button for an accurate waist circumference measurement.
This measurement can often assist in determining where the majority of body fat accumulates in a person’s body. Different types of fat cells can collect – and those in the abdominal region (visceral fat) are often considered to be more harmful.
Tips For Maintaining A Healthy BMI
Individuals with a BMI that is higher than 25, which is contributed to by fat accumulation, should try to start with a plan that incorporates both a diet plan and exercise to improve their overall health and well being.
When developing a diet, several factors need to be taken into consideration. A person with diabetes who often experiences may sometimes experience a drop in blood glucose levels as well. Adopting a hypoglycemia diet that takes advantage of healthy and whole foods can help avoid low blood sugar.
A healthy diet can lead to several benefits for a person, apart from just helping them achieve and maintain a normal BMI.
For example, a healthy diet has been linked to possibly stronger sex life. Incorporating the right healthy foods may also lead to improvements in cardiovascular health, a sharper mind, and improved endurance during physical activity.
BMI, or Body Mass Index, plays an important role in telling a person whether they seem to be at a healthy weight or not.
When BMI reaches high levels, particularly over 25, it means there is too much excess fat in the person’s body. This may contribute to adverse effects, which could lead to the development of potentially life-threatening health conditions.
Understanding what BMI means as a screening tool and what a healthy BMI should be is essential, along with education that helps a person know how they can maintain a BMI that lowers their risk of certain health conditions.