More to Health Than BMI

While extra pounds can sometimes cause distress, body mass index, a common tool that calculates weight and height to measure body size and whether a person has a healthy or excess amount of weight, can sometimes be much worse.

Although BMI is used as a standard screen tool to track weight statuses, according to Yvette Brazier of Medical News Today, it does not measure the fat directly, nor does it account for age, gender, ethnicity, or muscle mass.

The idea that only using a BMI screening can be misleading may be measured by looking at the difference between fat and muscle. An athlete who has more muscle mass than the average person for their height may have a higher BMI, which, according to the scale, would signify that he or she is overweight. However, this does not actually mean that the athlete is overweight, according to Brazier.

While this evidence signifies that BMI screenings should not be the only tool to calculate health, it does offer a good basis to start.

BMI Ranges
(Courtesy of Medical News Today)
Below 18.5 Underweight
18.5-24.9 Healthy
25-29.9 Overweight
30 and above Obese

There are other measurements available that can help the accuracy of determining someone’s overall health. This includes body composition, which measures the body fat and lean body mass to determine the amount of fat a person has throughout his or her body. There are also measurements of the waist-hip and waist-to-height, according to Brazier. Additionally, factors like a patient’s blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar need to be considered.

When a patient is overweight, the BMI screening can be detrimental because doctors assume that any health issues are caused by the excess weight. This, in turn, can result in an undetermined health factor that can be discovered by other tests.

According to Marie Southard Ospina of Healthline, doctors who use the assumption that health problems are most likely caused by their patients’ weight end up failing to provide adequate healthcare, often missing crucial diagnoses. This can affect a patient’s well-being and quality of life, causing the patient to sometimes even avoiding healthcare altogether because of the bias.

The bottom line is that BMI screenings do not necessarily determine the accurate
representation of a patient’s weight status. There are plenty more health factors and tests to conduct to define health and whether it needs dietary adjustments. While a doctor’s bias regarding weight cannot always be controlled, it is important to remember that you know your own body better than anyone. If you suspect there is another underlying problem related to your health other than weight, seek a second opinion. There is nothing more important than staying healthy, especially if it is easily testable and preventable.

Written by: Alex Dunn

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