Does your BMI matter?
If you have ever had your height and weight measurements taken at the doctor, they may have calculated your BMI, or body mass index. BMI is a ratio measurement that assigns you a number and classifies you as overweight, underweight or at a healthy weight depending on your height.
You can find your BMI *super* easily using a number of free online calculator resources, although you often don't get much more information about what exactly a particular number means for your physical, mental and emotional health. A "normal" BMI is considered anywhere from 18.5 to 25, between 25-30 is classified as "overweight" and a number higher than 30 is considered "obese" according to this measurement. In recent years, research on the use of BMI has begun to cast doubt upon its legitimacy as the major determinate of fitness. So, how seriously should you take the numerical value of your BMI? Here's what you need to know...
Harvard Medical School is heavily interested in studying the BMI and its impact in the medical field. In fact, Harvard Medical Publishing dives into the pros and cons of using BMI and came up with some potentially surprising conclusions. On one hand, using BMI to alert patients to the risks of conditions like diabetes, liver disease, elevated blood pressure and various cancers which are all heightened by obesity can be vital in administering preventative treatment and helping the overall well-being of Americans. However, there are a number of problems with the BMI scale that sometimes make it less reliable than other measures of physical health and can even cause unnecessary body dysmorphia.
A common objection to the BMI calculation is that a strict measurement of weight and height cannot accurately depict how every person's body is different and holds weight differently. There are also no distinctions between muscle and fat on a BMI scale, so a higher weight that is attributed to more muscular body types can be classified as "overweight" when in reality the person is perfectly healthy.
Finally, weight is *not* the only measure of health (nor is it the most important!). It does not take into account strength, endurance or other factors that can be developed over time and become very important to protect your body from disease. Overall, the argument presented by Harvard Medical School shows that while BMI can be useful for medical practitioners and in certain contexts, it has plenty of flaws and should have absolutely *no* control over how you feel about yourself! Remember that no matter what the scale says, if you are nourishing your body and treating it well with exercise then you are healthy and perfect just the way you are.
For more information about the pros and cons of BMI measurements, visit Harvard Health Publishing.
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