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Why Your Bmi Is Not An Accurate Measure Of Health
If you’ve ever gone to the doctor carrying a few extra pounds, you’ve probably gotten a grim warning about your body mass index. The BMI has existed for over 200 years, but it is only recently that it has been used as a primary prognosticator of health.
The body mass index measures a person’s weight relative to his or her height for the purpose of setting benchmarks for normal weight and obesity, as well as weight levels that are unhealthily low. Because obesity puts you at risk of chronic conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes, many people regard a high BMI as equivalent to a death sentence. However, BMI is not an accurate measure of overall health. Here are a few of the reasons why.
BMI Measures Weight, Not Fat
If your BMI is high, you may go about researching Thrive side effects trying to find a way to lose weight. While healthier living is a worthwhile goal, you should first determine the exact reason why your body mass index is high. BMI is a measure of weight, but it does not differentiate between fat and muscle. The greater your muscle mass, the higher your BMI is likely to be. Therefore, ...
... you sometimes see top athletes with a BMI indicating that they are “obese” when you can tell that the opposite is true simply by looking at them.
BMI Does Not Differentiate Between Types of Fat
If you’ve determined that your BMI is high because of fat rather than muscle, that indicates that you’re unhealthy and on the fast track for devastating diseases, right? Not necessarily. The distribution of weight, i.e., where you carry it on your body, makes a difference, yet BMI doesn’t differentiate between peripheral fat and belly fat. Peripheral fat occurs in areas of the body other than the abdominal region. Its effect on overall health is still undetermined but may be less impactful than belly fat, which has been shown to increase the risk of chronic conditions and death.
BMI Is Not Accurate for All Demographics
BMI is a generic measure that does not take differences due to age, race, or gender into consideration. For example, there have been problems using BMI to assess older adults who have lost height over time and women who are pregnant. There is also evidence to suggest that the BMI may not be an accurate measure for children.
Excess Body Weight May Help You Live Longer
While there are studies clearly demonstrating a link between obesity and chronic conditions potentially leading to premature death, there are also studies indicating that, at least in some cases, people with a high BMI actually tend to live longer. It’s not entirely clear why that might be, but one theory suggests that excess fat provides additional energy reserves from which the body can draw in the setting of chronic diseases, such as kidney failure or heart disease. Chronic diseases such as these can result in cachexia, or unhealthy weight loss that makes it seem as though the body is wasting away because of the speed at which it takes place. Excess fat stores may help to counteract this effect and sustain the body.
Whether there is any unexpected health advantage may depend on how high the BMI is. If it is close to the benchmark for “normal” weight versus “overweight,” the slight excess may be slightly to your advantage. On the other hand, there may not be a similar benefit if your BMI shows you to be obese or close to it.
BMI Is a Narrow Measure
BMI does not measure overall health. It is not even a diagnostic of disease. All it does is give a relative measure of a person’s weight. To get a more complete picture of your overall health, you should look at BMI in context with other indicators, such as blood pressure, glucose, and cholesterol. These indicators can be, and frequently are, at unhealthy levels in people who have a normal BMI.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to reduce excess body fat where it is, in fact, present. However, you should base your health goals on an broader perspective and not focus on BMI alone.
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