Should You Worry About Your BMI?

Should you Be Worried About Your BMI?

Should You Worry About Your BMI?

This method of measurement has shown us how serious the obesity epidemic has becoming in the United States and other western-influenced countries.

BMI stands for Body Mass Index. It can be defined as a way of relating weight to height. You simply take your weight in kilograms and divide it by your height in meters squared.

(Or if you’re in the USA and laugh in the face of the metric system, you take your weight in pounds, divide it by your height in inches squared and multiply it by 703.)

The formula looks this:

stated earlier, this is a convenient tool for medical professionals because it provides a simple and quick way to categorize someone as being healthy or overweight.

Here is the chart that is used to determine what category of weight someone fits into:

The simplicity of the BMI makes it super simple to look at the world population as a whole and determine where everyone roughly stands in terms of being underweight, healthy, overweight, and obese.

There is, however, one problem when using the BMI…

This is easily the most common problem with using the BMI. Since it only looks at height and weight, BF% and LBM (Lean Body Mass) aren't factored in.

Lean Body Mass is everything that isn't fat in your body (muscle, bones, organs, blah blah blah….) Here is an example of what a higher LBM would look using the BMI scale:

I was around 12% body fat whenever I weighed 180 pounds in mid/late 2012 when this photo was taken

Most people would agree that 12% body fat was a healthy body fat to have as a young adult, and it's pretty clear that I am not overweight, at least not by much of the Western World's standards.

However, BMI told a different story….

According to the BMI Chart above, at 5’11” and 180) pounds I have a BMI of 25.

By BMI standards, I would be considered overweight!

People in the fitness industry often raise their middle finger at people who use the BMI, but I said earlier, the MAJORITY of the world's population isn't carrying around extra LBM.

On the contrary, they may have less than what is ideal…

BMI fails to address individuals with high LBM (muscle mass), but its also skewed in the other direction, for people with very little muscle mass.

A study in 2008 by Romero-Corral et al. looked at data from the United States Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. They discovered that when using the BMI, 21 percent of men and 31 percent of women met the requirements for being obese.

However, when looking at those same participants body fat %, they found that 50 percent of men and 62 percent of women were considered obese. (Edelson, 2015).

So not only can the BMI overestimate whether someone is overweight or not, it can also underestimate!

The takeaway here should be that the BMI is inaccurate for people with abnormally high or low amounts of LBM (in comparison to the rest of the world's population.)

On a side note: If the BMI had an enemy, it would TOTALLY be Christian Bale… look how he has swung from one extreme to the other!

If I didn't love literally every movie Christian Bale was in, I would write him a very wordy, detailed letter of complaint…

Now, you may be asking yourself:

“If the BMI is so bad, then how should I track my progress?”

Well, there are a couple of ways that I have found to be much more accurate for tracking your body progress, especially if you are building muscle.

Tracking your body fat percentage is much more reliable when determining your body composition. This is because it looks at your lean body mass (LBM).

So someone could be 6 feet tall and weigh 185 pounds but be totally healthy if their body fat percentage is within a healthy range.

The same applies for someone who is 6 feet tall and weights 165 pounds. They would be healthy according to BMI (looking at their height and weight), but their body fat percentage may show they are overweight because they have little muscle mass.

Here is a chart showing what different body fat percentages correlate with being healthy, overweight, etc.:

This route is the easiest and most affordable. It might even be more accurate.

I have found that tracking my waist measurements in comparison to my height to be one of the best ways to track progress.

Fun Fact: There is actually science behind attraction and ratios in the body. This is known as the Adonis Belt.

If you’re a guy and you want to have the “Hollywood Look”, you’ll want to have a waist to height ratio of around .44-.45. (for a 72 inch guy, this could be achieved at a 31-32 inch waist measurement.)

If you want some examples of what this would look , click Here, Here, or Here.

As you can see, The BMI is helpful for addressing a large population, but may not be so on a person to person basis.

If you are currently losing weight and working out at the gym, don’t focus on getting to a healthy BMI range. Instead, you should shoot for a healthy body fat percentage, or more simply, a healthy height to waist ratio.

I actually got the idea of tracking my height/weight ratio by following the Kinobody “Greek God” program. In terms of building a great physique, I have yet to find a more simple and effective approach to building lean muscle.

Don't let the name scare you away, building the body of a Greek God doesn't have to be something crazy and unobtainable. Take this photo of Ryan Gosling from Crazy, Stupid Love:

I remember seeing this photo when I was younger and thinking he was freaking ripped! He is definitely in shape, but his physique is absolutely attainable for anyone to achieve.

…and I am not sure of any girl who would say Ryan Gosling has a bad body…

Here's the program if you're interested.


Should You Be Worried About Your BMI?

Should You Worry About Your BMI?

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.

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 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, injectable nutrients that will supercharge your diet and workout efforts. Contact Renew Man™ to learn more.


Ideal Height and Weight Chart

Should You Worry About Your BMI?

What's the best way to determine a healthy weight? You can find out what your body mass index is by using the interactive BMI calculator, or you can look at your height and weight in the chart below.

Determining your body mass index

Determining how much you should weigh is not a simple matter of looking at a height-weight chart, but includes considering the amount of bone, muscle and fat in your body's composition.

The amount of fat is the critical measurement. A good indicator of how much fat you carry is the body mass index (BMI). Although it is not a perfect measure, it gives a fairly accurate assessment of how much of your body is composed of fat.

How can I tell if I'm overweight?

Use the tool at right to calculate your BMI. Having a BMI higher than 24.9 may mean you are overweight. Note that these are approximate values, and they are intended to be used only as a rough guide.

If you are worried about your BMI or are trying to lose weight, talk to your primary care doctor.

You may also wish to contact the Rush Center for Weight Loss and Lifestyle Medicine, which offers individualized weight loss and wellness programs for people of all ages.

You may also contact the Rush Nutrition and Wellness Center or the Rush University Prevention Center. These programs offer nutrition counseling and help with making lifestyle changes.

Doctors at Rush offer bariatric surgery for some people who are morbidly obese (those with a BMI of at least 40, or a BMI of at least 35 plus an obesity-related disease such as diabetes or high blood pressure).

Height and Weight Chart

4' 10″ 91 to 118 lbs. 119 to 142 lbs. 143 to 186 lbs.
4' 11″ 94 to 123 lbs. 124 to 147 lbs. 148 to 193 lbs.
5' 97 to 127 lbs. 128 to 152 lbs. 153 to 199 lbs.
5' 1″ 100 to 131 lbs. 132 to 157 lbs. 158 to 206 lbs.
5' 2″ 104 to 135 lbs. 136 to 163 lbs. 164 to 213 lbs.
5' 3″ 107 to 140 lbs. 141 to 168 lbs. 169 to 220 lbs.
5' 4″ 110 to 144 lbs. 145 to 173 lbs. 174 to 227 lbs.
5' 5″ 114 to 149 lbs. 150 to 179 lbs. 180 to 234 lbs.
5' 6″ 118 to 154 lbs. 155 to 185 lbs. 186 to 241 lbs.
5' 7″ 121 to 158 lbs. 159 to 190 lbs. 191 to 249 lbs.
5' 8″ 125 to 163 lbs. 164 to 196 lbs. 197 to 256 lbs.
5' 9″ 128 to 168 lbs. 169 to 202 lbs. 203 to 263 lbs.
5' 10″ 132 to 173 lbs. 174 to 208 lbs. 209 to 271 lbs.
5' 11″ 136 to 178 lbs. 179 to 214 lbs. 215 to 279 lbs.
6' 140 to 183 lbs. 184 to 220 lbs. 221 to 287 lbs.
6' 1″ 144 to 188 lbs. 189 to 226 lbs. 227 to 295 lbs.
6' 2″ 148 to 193 lbs. 194 to 232 lbs. 233 to 303 lbs.
6' 3″ 152 to 199 lbs. 200 to 239 lbs. 240 to 311 lbs.
6' 4″ 156 to 204 lbs. 205 to 245 lbs. 246 to 320 lbs.
BMI 19 to 24 25 to 29 30 to 39

Source: National Institutes of Health. Don't see your weight? Learn more.


Assessing Your Weight and Health Risk

Should You Worry About Your BMI?

Assessment of weight and health risk involves using three key measures:

  1. Body mass index (BMI)
  2. Waist circumference
  3. Risk factors for diseases and conditions associated with obesity

Body Mass Index (BMI)

BMI is a useful measure of overweight and obesity. It is calculated from your height and weight. BMI is an estimate of body fat and a good gauge of your risk for diseases that can occur with more body fat. The higher your BMI, the higher your risk for certain diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, gallstones, breathing problems, and certain cancers.

Although BMI can be used for most men and women, it does have some limits:

  • It may overestimate body fat in athletes and others who have a muscular build.
  • It may underestimate body fat in older persons and others who have lost muscle.

Use the BMI Calculator or BMI Tables to estimate your body fat. The BMI score means the following:

UnderweightBelow 18.5
Obesity30.0 and Above

Waist Circumference

Measuring waist circumference helps screen for possible health risks that come with overweight and obesity. If most of your fat is around your waist rather than at your hips, you’re at a higher risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

This risk goes up with a waist size that is greater than 35 inches for women or greater than 40 inches for men. To correctly measure your waist, stand and place a tape measure around your middle, just above your hipbones.

Measure your waist just after you breathe out.

The table Risks of Obesity-Associated Diseases by BMI and Waist Circumference provides you with an idea of whether your BMI combined with your waist circumference increases your risk for developing obesity-associated diseases or conditions.

Risk Factors for Health Topics Associated With Obesity

Along with being overweight or obese, the following conditions will put you at greater risk for heart disease and other conditions:

Risk Factors

  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • High LDL cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol)
  • Low HDL cholesterol (“good” cholesterol)
  • High triglycerides
  • High blood glucose (sugar)
  • Family history of premature heart disease
  • Physical inactivity
  • Cigarette smoking

For people who are considered obese (BMI greater than or equal to 30) or those who are overweight (BMI of 25 to 29.9) and have two or more risk factors, it is recommended that you lose weight.

Even a small weight loss (between 5 and 10 percent of your current weight) will help lower your risk of developing diseases associated with obesity.

People who are overweight, do not have a high waist measurement, and have fewer than two risk factors may need to prevent further weight gain rather than lose weight.

Talk to your doctor to see whether you are at an increased risk and whether you should lose weight. Your doctor will evaluate your BMI, waist measurement, and other risk factors for heart disease.

The good news is even a small weight loss (between 5 and 10 percent of your current weight) will help lower your risk of developing those diseases.


Assessing Your Weight

Should You Worry About Your BMI?

A high amount of body fat can lead to weight-related diseases and other health issues. Being underweight is also a health risk.

Body Mass Index (BMI) and waist circumference are screening tools to estimate weight status in relation to potential disease risk. However, BMI and waist circumference are not diagnostic tools for disease risks.

A trained healthcare provider should perform other health assessments to evaluate disease risk and diagnose disease status.

Adult Body Mass Index or BMI

BMI is a person’s weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in meters. A high BMI can indicate high body fatness, and a low BMI can indicate too low body fatness. To calculate your BMI, see the BMI Calculator. Or determine your BMI by finding your height and weight in this BMI Index Chartexternal icon1.

  • If your BMI is less than 18.5, it falls within the underweight range.
  • If your BMI is 18.5 to 24.9, it falls within the normal or Healthy Weight range.
  • If your BMI is 25.0 to 29.9, it falls within the overweight range.
  • If your BMI is 30.0 or higher, it falls within the obese range.

Weight that is higher than what is considered as a healthy weight for a given height is described as overweight or obese. Weight that is lower than what is considered as healthy for a given height is described as underweight.1

At an individual level, BMI can be used as a screening tool but is not diagnostic of the body fatness or health of an individual. A trained healthcare provider should perform appropriate health assessments in order to evaluate an individual’s health status and risks.

How to Measure Height and Weight for BMI

Height and weight must be measured to calculate BMI. It is most accurate to measure height in meters and weight in kilograms. However, the BMI formula has been adapted for height measured in inches and weight measured in pounds. These measurements can be taken in a healthcare provider’s office, or at home using a tape measure and scale.

For more, see About Adult BMI.

Waist Circumference

To correctly measure waist circumference:

  • Stand and place a tape measure around your middle, just above your hipbones
  • Make sure tape is horizontal around the waist
  • Keep the tape snug around the waist, but not compressing the skin
  • Measure your waist just after you breathe out

Another way to estimate your potential disease risk is to measure your waist circumference.

Excessive abdominal fat may be serious because it places you at greater risk for developing obesity-related conditions, such as Type 2 Diabetes, high blood pressure, and coronary artery disease.

Your waistline may be telling you that you have a higher risk of developing obesity-related conditions if you are1:

  • A man whose waist circumference is more than 40 inches
  • A non-pregnant woman whose waist circumference is more than 35 inches

Waist circumference can be used as a screening tool but is not diagnostic of the body fatness or health of an individual. A trained healthcare provider should perform appropriate health assessments in order to evaluate an individual’s health status and risks.

Note: The information on these pages is intended for adult men and non-pregnant women only. To assess the weight of children or teenagers, see the Child and Teen BMI Calculator.


Should I Be Worried About My BMI?

Should You Worry About Your BMI?

I want to talk about some of the better alternatives to BMI. I’ve heard this number bounced around quite a bit. It stands for Body Mass Index, and it’s an equation that’s done to give you a rough indication of whether you are overweight, underweight, or so on.

If you’re a very muscular person, your BMI is going to imply you’re overweight, when usually that isn’t the case – it’s because you’ve got the dense muscle mass. So it’s not an accurate number, but that said, I’m not particularly keen on any number that you can apply to somebody’s body composition (which I think is a better way of describing things).

Body composition is how your body is composed of water, muscle, fat, and bone. For most people, we want a little bit more muscle, and in some cases, quite a bit less fat, but body composition is the right term.

What am I a fan of?

Look in the mirror. Be objective. Are you happy with what you see your own measurements, not some warped distortion of what you should look that’s been propounded to you by the media, for example? Are you happy with how you feel? That’s probably the most critical subjective measure of all. Do you feel fit? Do you feel good? Do you feel happy your own personal standard?

And of course, you can bounce off other people to get their perspective, but really, it’s about you and how you feel.

My final measure that I’m really keen on is functional fitness.

Can you do the things that you want to do? Can you climb the stairs in the time that you want to get up the stairs? Can you lift your shopping, lift your children, play with your children? Are you able to lift your suitcase off the carousal in an airport? If you can’t do any of those things, then your functional fitness is probably what you need to focus on.

Rather than obsessing about a number, focus on your functional fitness, focus on how you feel, focus to a degree on how you look – but not primarily.

And as a final measure, the thing that never lies is an item of clothing. A jumper isn’t going to expand to make you feel better or shrink to really irritate you, so having a piece of clothing that you want to get back into can also be a good measure, because these things don’t change – if it’s too baggy or too tight, it’s you that has changed. But focus primarily on how you feel.

Check out my TEDx talk, Why Fitness Is More Important Than Weight, if you want to get a bit more on this idea.

What’s your Health IQ?

If you’re reading this, you might be in reasonably senior position, running your own business or have a busy life running the home and juggling other responsibilities. Either way, you’re busy!

The convergent pressures of work and family life have probably meant that the time you did have to spend on health and fitness has disappeared. Why not talk to us and see how we can help.

Click here to take our test

Leanne Spencer is an entrepreneur, coach, TEDx Speaker, author of Remove the Guesswork, and founder of Bodyshot Performance Limited.

Bodyshot is a health and fitness consultancy that helps busy professionals get more energy by removing the guesswork around their health, fitness and nutrition. Visit www.bodyshotperformance.

com or email [email protected] to register your interest in our services and connect with us on , Instagram,  and LinkedIn.


BMI Not a Good Measure of Healthy Body Weight, Researchers Argue

Should You Worry About Your BMI?

When it comes to defining what body weight is considered healthy, one type of measurement does not fit all, some scientists say.

Body mass index is the standard metric for determining who is normal-weight, overweight and obese, but BMI is not an accurate measure of fat, and doesn't explain the causes of poor health, scientists argue in an editorial today (Aug. 22) in the journal Science.

Obesity can be a major risk for diabetes, heart disease and death, yet paradoxically, some studies suggest being overweight can improve survival of chronic diseases.

“Most studies depend on BMI, and we know it's not a very accurate measure,” said Dr. Rexford Ahima, a medical professor at the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia, and co-author of the editorial. [8 Reasons Our Waistlines Are Expanding]

A person's BMI is calculated as her weight in kilograms divided by her height in meters, squared. A BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 is considered “normal,” a BMI of 25 to 29.9 is “overweight,” and a BMI greater than 30 is “obese.”

People with BMIs higher than 30 are at an increased risk of dying from heart disease, diabetes, cancer and other diseases, many studies have shown. But several recent studies suggest that in some cases, a high BMI could actually protect a person from dying of heart failure, kidney failure and other chronic diseases.

When someone has a chronic illness, having more fat could possibly provide additional energy reserves. And in some cases, a low BMI may be a result of a person having an illness.   

The health risks and benefits of obesity have generated “a lot of sniping back and forth between different groups of researchers,” Ahima told LiveScience.

The problem stems from the fact that BMI is an inaccurate measure of health, Ahima said.

For one thing, BMI doesn't take into account fat, and it doesn't indicate where fat is distributed on the body.

Belly fat (fat around the abdominal organs) increases the risk of diabetes, heart disease and death, whereas peripheral fat (fat beneath the skin elsewhere in the body) may be more innocuous, studies suggest. BMI also fails to account for differences in race, gender and age.

So why is the measurement so widely used? “Because it's simple,” Ahima said, adding that it's easy to weigh people and measure their height. For most people, BMI provides a “reasonable measure” of body fat, but is not accurate for athletes (who weigh more because of muscle) or older people who have lost height, he said.

Other methods of measuring body fat also have their pros and cons. CT and MRI scans can accurately measure body fat, but are usually very expensive. DEXA scans, normally used to measure bone density, can also be used to measure body fat, but are costly as well. Measuring levels of the hormone leptin can also be an indicator of body fat.

There's no single number that can represent a healthy weight, Ahima said. It depends on starting weight, genetics and gender, among other factors.

Obesity is a complex disorder — it's not just having too much fat, he said. It's important to consider fat in relation to the amount of muscle.

And scientists need to start looking more closely at cause-and-effect in body fat and disease, Ahima said. “What is it about being obese that makes one unhealthy or healthy? We need to understand the molecular mechanisms.”

Follow Tanya Lewis on  and . Follow us @livescience,  & . Original article on LiveScience.

Editor's note: This article was updated at 9:20 p.m. on Aug. 23 to give the correct BMI range for being overweight.