Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Skinny on BMI

There is a lot of confusion about Body Mass Index or BMI. What is the purpose of using BMI? Is it really a good indicator of our wealth?

BMI is in many ways an outdated concept. Take me for instance, at only 5'2", I am considered overweight according to my BMI. Say what! How is that so? I am healthy and have a good amount of lean muscle mass.

Let me clarify, BMI can be an important baseline measurement of overall body fat for tracking progress, and can be a good indicator for potential health risk factors, but there are limitations. Your BMI is calculated by dividing your weight (kg) by your height (x2 in millimeters). Yet, BMI falls short to consider the proportional distribution of body fat and the composition of overall body weight. Because of this, healthy adults can by misdiagnosed by BMI as overweight or even obese.

It is very common for athletes and those with a muscular build to be misdiagnosed. This particulary applies to body builders, larger sized athletes, football players, and heavier wrestlers, who typically have large amounts of lean muscle mass. BMI may also underestimate "fatness" in older people and those who have lost muscle.

It is important to realize that the number obtained from BMI is not an accurate measurement of body composition (percent of body fat) but a calculated ratio using height and weight. Many doctors now use other methods besides BMI when assessing overall fatness and the risk for disease.


  1. yep! yep! yep! I teach this all the time, it's a great quick measurement for doctors but for most of us body fat percentage, homone health and a million other measurements are more important!

    1. Hey Kelli! I tell my clients this all the time. Unfortunately not everyone realizes this. :(