Body Mass Index, or BMI, is a method used to calculate obesity risk. To get a BMI number, an individual inputs their height and weight into a specific calculation. The resulting number is compared to different ranges of categories, for example, a BMI of 20 is considered a normal, healthy weight while any number above 29 is classified as obese.
Considering that obesity is a health epidemic, BMI is a helpful tool that can help those who are at risk. However, it has a number of flaws that should be considered. BMI only uses two fields of information: height and weight. Needless to say, everyone’s body is different, and just considering two simple points of data does not paint a full picture. For the most glaring example, the standard BMI test does not take gender into account.
So what can BMI actually tell you? If you are in a situation where you feel you might be overweight or obese, it’s a simple test that is easily accessible and a good first step. But it’s the next steps that count. Often enough, a higher BMI number turns out to not be such a big deal when a doctor puts together all the information available. A personal trainer is another excellent resource as they are trained to specifically measure body fat, and then recheck as you progress in your exercise and diet.
Ultimately, a BMI number is a good first step to take with the knowledge that it does not tell the whole story. Experienced professionals can help you further assess how much work needs to be done to get your health to its optimal level, and the steps necessary to reach your goal.