Thoughts on Better Aging

Should You Be Worried About Your BMI?

June 24th, 2016

Learn why BMI isn’t a reliable indicator of health or body composition.

BMI, or Body Mass Index, is meant to indicate how much body fat an individual has relative to their height and weight. BMI is easy and inexpensive to calculate, which is why many healthcare organizations use it to identify people who may be at risk for developing the various health conditions associated with obesity. However, it is not a completely dependable diagnostic tool.

The Main Problem with BMI Is…

BMI Makes No Distinction Between Weight From Muscle and Weight From Fat

For example, let’s calculate the BMI of Arnold Schwarzenegger. The celebrity and former bodybuilder stands 6’2” and weighs about 240 pounds. Plug that into the BMI formula of weight (in kg) divided by height (in meters) squared and we get a BMI of 30.8. According to standard BMI values, anything over 30 qualifies as obese.

Of course Arnold Schwarzenegger is not actually obese. Because he works out, he has a lot of muscle. Because muscles are heavy, they increase his weight, and skew the results of the BMI calculation.

Even when two people have the same BMI, they can have very different levels of body fat. For example, at the same BM:

  • Women tend to have more body fat than men
  • Older people tend to have more body fat than younger people
  • Athletes have less body fat than non-athletes

BMI Was Designed for Populations, Not Individuals

The reason BMI does not take individual body composition characteristics into account is because it was never intended for individual use. The root formula was developed by a Belgian statistician in the mid-1800s to measure the average fatness of a male population. After medical studies began to show a link between obesity and early death, insurance companies adopted the formula as a simple, cheap way of helping them assess risk.

There Are Better Measures of Healthy Body Composition

If you are concerned about your body composition, there are better ways to measure your body fat than with BMI. The simplest option is to wrap a tape measure around your waist to check your abdominal fat. For men, a waist over 40 inches is associated with an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes. You can also ask your doctor to use calipers to measure the thickness of your body fat.

Need to Lose Weight and Build Muscle?

Regardless of what your BMI is, you know whether or not you are happy with your body composition. If you’re like many men, chances are you’ve gained some fat around your middle, and lost some muscle tone as you’ve aged. While diet and exercise are relevant, so are your hormones. Age-related testosterone decline makes it easier to gain fat, and harder to build muscle. If you restore testosterone to healthy levels with hormone therapy, it will be easier to lose fat, and easier to build muscle. If you need extra help, we have other therapies available, like injectable nutrients that will supercharge your diet and workout efforts. Contact Renew Man™ to learn more.

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