Is BMI really an accurate indicator? Check it all out!

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Ricky Joseph

The body mass index (BMI) is a standard tool to assess our health. As popular as it has been over the decades, it has recently come under criticism as it presents a simplified way that may not reflect reality.

Some say that BMI is outdated. They say it is inaccurate and should no longer be used by doctors or anyone looking to improve their physical fitness. Below you will find the main information and views on the subject.

What is BMI?

BMI was developed in 1832 by Belgian mathematician Lambert Adolphe Jacques Quetelet. He created the scale with the objective of quickly estimating the degree of overweight and obesity in a given population. In this way, the government could understand where more investments in health were needed.

Its creator believed that it did not have great results for measuring individuals in isolation, but rather for populations. However, BMI is used to this day to assess individual health conditions. It is something based on a mathematical formula that determines whether a person is healthy.

BMI is calculated like this: weight / height or else by the formula weight / height² x 703 .

There are some online calculators, like the one by Dr. Drauzio Varella, where you just put your information and it will be possible to identify what your situation is. And you can base yourself on this table to know if everything is as expected.

Is that a good indicator of health?

In fact, BMI does not clearly identify whether a person is healthy. On the other hand, studies show that a person with a BMI below 18.5 is at serious risk for chronic disease and premature death. So too for those who are above 30.

A study done in 2017 showed that people with BMI over 30 were between 1.5 and 2.7 times more likely to die after the age of 30, 103,218 deaths were analyzed. In addition, another research indicated that obese people had 20% more risk of death from heart disease compared to those with normal BMI.

Since scientific studies show that people with BMI above the considered ideal present worse clinical pictures, health professionals can use the index to evaluate the risks of such patient. However, this should not be the only diagnostic tool.

Disadvantages of using BMI

As much as research proves that an index below 18.5 and above 30 is considered bad, there are some factors that do not encourage the use of BMI, such as:

Disregards other health factors : it basically serves to show if the person is in the normal weight, without evaluating age, sex, genetics and lifestyle.

All weight is equal : a pound of muscle is not the same thing as a pound of fat for our health, but for BMI it is.

Disregards fat distribution : people with localized fat in the stomach area have a higher risk of chronic diseases. Only the index cannot predict this.

It may not apply to everyone : studies have already shown that individuals of Asian origin have chances of chronic diseases in cases of lower BMI.

With information from Healtline.

Ricky Joseph is a seeker of knowledge. He firmly believes that through understanding the world around us, we can work to better ourselves and our society as a whole. As such, he has made it his life's mission to learn as much as he can about the world and its inhabitants. Joseph has worked in many different fields, all with the aim of furthering his knowledge. He has been a teacher, a soldier, and a businessman - but his true passion lies in research. He currently works as a research scientist for a major pharmaceutical company, where he is dedicated to finding new treatments for diseases that have long been considered incurable. Through diligence and hard work, Ricky Joseph has become one of the foremost experts on pharmacology and medicinal chemistry in the world. His name is known by scientists everywhere, and his work continues to improve the lives of millions.