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Can your Body Mass Index (BMI) Kill You?

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According to a recent study [1], both very high and very low levels of Body Mass Index (BMI) are associated with an increased risk of death due to various causes. The research suggested that BMI of between 21-25 kg/m2 is associated with the lowest risk of dying from cancer and heart disease. The study looked at how BMI is associated with the risk of death both overall, and from a full spectrum of different causes.

What is BMI?

Body Mass Index or BMI was discovered by Lambert-Adolphe-Jacques Quetelet, almost 150 years ago [2]. It measures the amount of fat in your body (body fat), which is measured with your height and weight. BMI applies to most men as well as women over the age of 20. All you need to know is your height and weight, and you will easily be able to find out your BMI. It is universally expressed in units of kg/m².

What’s a normal BMI?

A normal BMI is between 18.5 and 25; a person with a BMI between 25 and 30 is considered overweight, and a person with a BMI over 30 is considered obese. A person is considered underweight if the BMI is less than 18.5.

As with most measures of health, BMI is not a perfect test. For example, results can be thrown off by pregnancy or high muscle mass, and it may not be a good measure of health for children or the elderly.

So then, why does BMI matter?

In general, the higher your BMI, the higher the risk of developing a range of conditions linked with excess weight, including:
• Diabetes
• Arthritis
• Liver disease
• Several types of cancer (such as those of the breast, colon, and prostate)
• High blood pressure (hypertension)
• High cholesterol
• Sleep apnea.

Current estimates suggest that up to 365,000 excess deaths due to obesity occur each year in the U.S. In addition, independent of any particular disease, people with high BMIs often report feeling better, both physically and psychologically, once they lose excess weight [3].

The value of BMI is used to understand whether an individual is at a healthy weight, underweight, overweight or obese. Being obese can increase health risks significantly, hence BMI is an easy way and a non-invasive measure that will help you to keep track of your weight in relation to your height. BMI is usually the same for men as well as women; however, having the same Body Mass Index may not correspond to having the same degree of fatness since body proportions of two individuals may differ. Thus, it is important to note that BMI is not a diagnostic tool; instead, it is a measuring tool used to get an idea of your relative fitness.

How to Calculate BMI?

There are many tools available online that can help anyone to calculate their own BMI [4]. BMI calculators are a popular choice, however, BMI Chart can be also helpful. With a BMI Chart, you simply have to find your height on the chart and your correct weight in relation to it. The chart itself will indicate your BMI.

bmi
Why Should You Have A Diet Plan Based On Your BMI?

Eating healthy food is very important for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Food is important to produce the energy that we require for our daily functioning. A healthy diet, which is full of nutrients that we need daily, is quite important for our physical as well as mental health at every stage of life. A healthy diet promotes healthy functioning of the body, which reduces the risks for developing chronic diseases, as well as increases the life expectancy.

A diet chart is very useful to keep track of daily food intake. Ultimately, it helps to assess the amount of protein, carbohydrates as well as fats that may have been consumed in a day, week or month. Thus, it helps to understand and maintain a healthy nutrient intake in daily life. A diet chart is simple and easy to use. Instead of having to check the calories for every item you eat, one can simply follow a diet chart to be assured that the calorie limit is maintained.

Is Diet More Important Than Exercise?

Eating healthy alone may not help to achieve the desired health and fitness level. It is a well-known fact that daily exercise should be coupled with a healthy diet. It can be easily said a healthy diet and exercise go hand in hand. A healthy diet is a good place to start when working towards the goal of a healthy lifestyle. With growing health issues, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is becoming a growing concern and need for many individuals. This has given rise to a large market of consumers that demand healthy alternatives. So, it is quite easy nowadays to be able to stick to diet routines and a healthy eating habit. However, regular exercise is the key to good physical health and mental health as well. These two factors are quite important to other aspects of your life, such as your job or family relations.

Bottom line

It’s important to recognize that BMI itself is not measuring “health” or a physiological state (such as resting blood pressure) that indicates the presence (or absence) of disease. It is simply a measure of your size. Plenty of people have a high or low BMI and are healthy and, conversely, plenty of folks with a normal BMI are unhealthy. A person with a normal BMI who smokes and has a strong family history of cardiovascular disease may have a higher risk of early cardiovascular death than someone who has a high BMI but is a physically fit non-smoker. As a single measure, BMI is not a perfect measure of health. But it’s still a useful starting point for important conditions that become more likely when a person is overweight or obese.

References

1. Bhaskaran K, dos-Santos-Silva I, Leon DA, Douglas IJ, Smeeth L. Association of BMI with overall and cause-specific mortality: a population-based cohort study of 3•6 million adults in the UK. The Lancet – Diabetes & Endocrinology 2018; 6(12): 944 – 953.

2. What is BMI & why is it important? What are the drawbacks or limitations of BMI? Assessed from: [https://tinyurl.com/y3oulqsy].

3. Shmerling R H. How useful is the body mass index (BMI)? March 30, 2016. Assessed from: [https://tinyurl.com/yyeaz4yl].

4. BMI Calculator: https://www.calculator.net/bmi-calculator.html

Source of Chart: http://jillgrimesmd.blogspot.com/2011/11/what-is-bmi.html

Dr. Sanjoy Kumar Pal is a Professor of Biology in Skyline University Nigeria. He has a PhD. in Animal Genetics from Indian Veterinary Research Institute, India.

You can join the conversation on facebook @SkylineUniversityNG and on twitter @SkylineUNigeria


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