The Body Mass Index (BMI) is a simple calculation that determines where a person sits on a scale that begins at “underweight” and ends at “obese”. It calculates a person’s age, weight and height to arrive at this figure, with the generally accepted “normal” range being between 18.5 to 25.
BMI is commonly used in healthcare and is also taken into consideration by everyone from insurance companies to sports scientists. However, it’s highly controversial and many have argued against its use. In this guide we’ll look at some of the positive and negative features of BMI in relation to weight loss.
BMI (BODY MASS INDEX)
A BMI over 25 is considered “overweight” and a BMI of 30+ is “obese”. Above 35 this changes to “severely obese” and above 40 it becomes “morbidly obese”. Someone with a 41.8 BMI score, therefore, is defined as being a serious health risk, with a significantly reduced life expectancy as a result.
However, this was the score given to eight-time Mr. Olympia Ronnie Coleman when he was the fittest and strongest he had ever been. He had a very low body fat percentage and most of his weight was muscle, but because the BMI classes all weight as the same, whether it comes from bone, fat or muscle, it gave a grossly inaccurate reading.
The same is true for many other athletes, including those who focus more on strength and conditioning than muscle size. It can make life difficult for anyone trying to lose weight while using the BMI scale as a guideline. If they lose fat by dieting and gain muscle by lifting weights, they have significantly improved their health and their body composition, but these things may cancel each other out when checked against the BMI.
BMI AND PHYSICAL EXERCISE
One of the reasons BMI endures despite the aforementioned issues is that it is one of the best guidelines we have for determining a person’s risk of death. Researchers have shown that every time the BMI increases above the “normal” range, the risk of early demise increases and when it reaches the “overweight” category it grows exponentially.
There is an increased risk of diabetes, strokes, heart attacks and even cancer and while the BMI is not perfect, it can be used to measure this risk. In fact, coronary heart disease is proportionate to the Body Mass Index and statistically speaking a patient’s risk of getting this disease increases with every increase on their BMI score.
Athletes are the exception to the rule, but they are a minority so their scores don’t impact the research on the whole.
BMI AND WEIGHT LOSS
If your only goal is to lose weight and improve your chances of living a long and healthy life then BMI can serve as a useful guideline. Unlike body fat percentages, you don’t need any callipers or measuring tapes. You just need to know your age, height and weight. Once you plug this data into a BMI calculator app, then it will tell you where you sit on the scale and, accordingly, how at-risk you are.
If health is your goal then you should seek to reduce your BMI to within a healthy range. There are many things that can help you to achieve this, from a simple diet and exercise program, to safe weight-loss supplements and medications such as phentermine (there are many prescribers of phentermine online that will supply you with this medication legally). However, you should always consult your doctor first as they may determine that more drastic action is required.
BMI AND HEALTH INSURANCE
BMI began as a tool to be used by medical professionals to determine how healthy an individual was likely to be. If it recorded a high or low score then they would then run further tests, including blood, urine and body fat analyses. However, BMI is now being used in many other industries, including the insurance sector.
If you apply for health insurance or life insurance, BMI will play a huge role. In some cases it can significantly reduce your chances of acquiring a life insurance policy even if you have never smoked and are relatively healthy. That’s because insurance is based on statistical probability and the statistics suggest that someone with a high BMI is more likely to contract a life threatening illness and meet an early demise.
If you reduce your BMI prior to applying for life insurance you can greatly improve your chances of being accepted and ensure you get a much better policy as well. If your high BMI is mainly the result of muscle, you need to make this clear to the life insurance company and they will then request some additional tests or information, such as waist circumference.