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What is Body Mass Index (BMI)?

– Body Mass Index is a simple tool that is generally used to estimate the total amount of body fat.
– To calculate BMI, you need to know your weight and height in kilo-grams and centimeters or meters. The weight of a person is then divided by the height.
– A change in BMI over a short period of time is often used to measure the change in one’s lifestyle habits.
– It does not measure the percentage of body fat.
– The BMI measurement can sometimes be misleading – a muscleman may have a high BMI but have much less fat than an unfit person whose BMI is lower.
– BMI is a gross estimate for the amount of fat in your body. It tells you whether you need to lose weight or not.
– It is a useful tool for diagnosing obesity or malnutrition; however, such diagnosis should take into account a person’s age, gender, fitness, and ethnicity.
– In children, annual increase in BMI are usually due to increases in lean mass rather than fat tissue. Not until late adolescence does fat mass begin to affect the BMI.
– Women typically carry more subcutaneous fat than men do, particularly in the breast and hips, so their percent body fat may be higher without it necessarily being reflected in their BMI or having any adverse health effects.

BMI indicates you are :
– Underweight for BMI less than 18.5.
– Normal for BMI 18.5 – 22.9*.
– Overweight for BMI 23.0 – 24.9*.
– Obese for BMI 25.0 and above.
A BMI of over 25 in a person, with sedantary lifestyle, makes them more prone to problems like heart diseases, gall stones, high blood pressure or hypertension, diabetes, osteoarthritis, breast and Colon Cancer.

Limitations of Body Mass Index (BMI)

– BMI calculation is solely dependant on the net weight and height of the individual and does not consider the distribution of muscle and bone mass.
– Risk of overestimating fatness in individuals with high muscle mass is there.
– BMI does not differentiate between body fat and muscle mass.
– BMI overestimates the fat and the risks to health in body builders and athletes.
– BMI can underestimate the amount of body fat in elderly people.

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