Is Your Bmi Really A Good Measure Of Your Health (2023)

Body mass index (BMI) could be a normal health assessment tool in most healthcare settings.

Although it has been used for many years as the reference measure for body size compatible with health. It has been heavily criticized for its oversimplification of what is grossly suggested to be healthy.

Several claim that BMI is outdated and inaccurate and should not be used in medical and fitness settings.

This article tells you everything you need to know about BMI. Its history, whether or not it is an associated correct predictor of health, and therefore the alternatives to that.

What is BMI?

Is Your Bmi Really A Good Measure Of Your Health (2023) What is BMI?
Is Your Bmi A Good Measure Of Your Health

“BMI” stands for “body mass index.” The BMI was developed in 1832 by a Belgian scientist named Lambert Adolphe Jacques Quetelet (1 trusted source).

He developed the BMI scale to quickly estimate the level of overweight and fat in a narrow population to help governments decide where to divide health and financial resources (1Trusted source).

Interestingly, Quetelet explained that BMI was not useful for finding single people. But rather for giving an idea of ​​the general health of a population. However, it is very common in the health of living people (1Trusted source).

The BMI scale is based on a mathematical formula that determines whether or not an individual is at a “healthy” weight by dividing their weight in kilograms by their height in meters squared (1Trusted Source):

  • BMI = weight (kg) / height (m2)

Alternatively, divide your weight in pounds by your height in inches squared and multiply by 703 to get your BMI:

  • BMI = (weight (lbs) / height (in2)) x 703

You can also use a web BMI calculator, such as the one provided by the trusted National Institutes of Health.

Once the BMI calculated, it compared to the BMI scale to determine whether or not it falls within the “normal” weight range (2Trusted Source):

BMI RangeClassificationRisk of Poor Health
less than 18.5underweighthigh
18.5–24.9normal weightlow
25.0–29.9overweightlow to moderate
30.0–34.9obese category I (moderately resounding)high
35.0–39.9obese category II (very resounding)very high
40 or greaterobese category III (extremely rotund)extremely high

Based on this calculation, a health professional might advise health and fitness changes if you don’t fall into the “normal” weight category at intervals.


Some countries have adopted this BMI scale to better represent the size and height of their populations. For example, Asian men and girls have been shown to have a higher risk of heart disease with a lower BMI, compared to non-Asians (3Trusted Source).

Although this can give the healthcare professional a snapshot of a person’s health based on their weight. It does not take into account other factors. Such as age, gender, race, genetics, fat mass, muscle mass, and Bone density.


Body mass index (BMI) could be a calculation that estimates a person’s body fat based on their height and weight. A BMI of eighteen.5 to 24.9 considered a “normal” weight with occasional risk of ill health. While anything above or below could indicate a higher risk of ill health.

Is It a Good Health Indicator?

Is Your Bmi Really A Good Measure Of Your Health (2023) Is It a Good Health Indicator?
Is Your Bmi A Good Measure Of Your Health

Despite considerations, BMI does not accurately establish whether or not a person is healthy. Most studies show that a person’s risk of chronic disease and premature death will increase with a BMI below eighteen.5 (” underweight”) or thirty.0 or older (“obese”) (4Trusted Supply, 5Trusted Source).

For example, a 2017 retrospective study of 103,218 deaths found that those who had a BMI of 30.0 or greater (“obese”) had a 1.5- to 2.7-fold increased risk of death when followed up for 30 years (4 Source).

Another study of sixteen 868 people showed that those within the “obese” BMI class had an exaggerated twofold risk of death from all causes and heart conditions. Compared with those within the “normal” BMI class (6 Source trustworthy).

The researchers jointly found that people who fell into the “underweight” class, and thus the “severely obese” or “extremely obese” classes, died an average of 6.7 years and 3.7 years earlier. , separately, than those within the “normal”. BMI class (6Trusted source).

Other studies have shown that a BMI greater than 30.0 begins to significantly increase the risk of chronic health problems such as polygenic disorder type two, cardiovascular diseases, respiratory difficulties, nephrosis, non-alcoholic illness, and quality problems (7 trusted source, 8 Reliable Supply, 9 Reliable Supply, 10 Reliable Supply, 11 Reliable Supply, 12 Reliable Supply, 13 Reliable Source).

Additionally, a 5% to 10% reduction in a person’s BMI has been linked to reduced rates of metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, and polygenic disorder type 2 (14 Trusted Source, 15 Trusted Source, 16 Trusted Source, 17 trusted source).


Because most studies show an associated risk of chronic hyperbolic disease among people who are overweight. Many health professionals use BMI as a general measure of a person’s risk. Still, it shouldn’t be the only diagnostic tool used (18 trusted sources, 19 trusted sources).


Although the BMI has been criticized for its oversimplification of health. Most analyzes support its ability to estimate a person’s risk of chronic disease, particularly the risk of premature death and metabolic syndrome.

Downsides of BMI

Is Your Bmi Really A Good Measure Of Your Health (2023) Downsides of BMI
Is Your Bmi A Good Measure Of Your Health

Despite studies associating occasional (below 18.5) and high (30 or more) BMI with hyperbolic health risks. There are several flaws in its use.

Doesn’t Consider Other Health Factors

The BMI only answers “yes” or “no” about whether or not someone has a “normal” weight, without contextualizing their age, sex, genetics, lifestyle, history, or other factors.

Relying solely on BMI could miss vital health measures, such as cholesterol, blood glucose, heart rate, blood pressure, and inflammation levels, and overestimate or underestimate a person’s true health.

This is a lot, despite the variable body compositions of men and women. Men have a lot of muscle mass and less fat mass than women. BMI uses an equivalent calculation for both teams (20Trusted Source).

Also, as a person ages, their body fat mass will naturally increase and muscle mass will naturally decrease. Several studies have shown that the next BMI of twenty-three, 0 to 29.9 in older adults, often protects against premature death and disease (21 reliable supply, 22 reliable sources).

Finally, the mere victimization of BMI to calculate a person’s health ignores different aspects of health, as well as mental well-being and complex social science factors such as financial gain, access to cheap and nutritious food, skills, and data. food and living environment.

Assumes All Weight Is Equal

Although one pound or metric unit of weight of muscle weighs the equivalent of one pound or metric unit of weight of fat, muscle is denser and takes up less area. As a result, someone from the UN agency is extremely thin, but has a large muscle mass and is also heavier in size.

For example, a 200-pound (97 kg) man who is five feet nine inches (175 cm) tall incorporates a BMI of twenty-nine. 5, which classifies him as “overweight.”

Two people of the same height and weight, on the other hand, can appear to be radically different. One may also have a lot of muscle mass, whereas the other may have a lot of fat mass.

If only BMI was taken into account, this could simply misclassify someone as “overweight” or “obese” despite their low-fat mass. Therefore, it is important to consider a person’s muscle, fat, and bone mass in addition to their weight (23Trusted Sources, 24Trusted Sources, 25Trusted Sources).

Doesn’t Consider Fat Distribution

Is Your Bmi Really A Good Measure Of Your Health (2023) Doesn’t Consider Fat Distribution
Is Your Bmi A Good Measure Of Your Health

Although a larger BMI linked to worse health outcomes. The placement of fat on the body could make an even bigger difference.

Those with fat retention around the abdomen space, termed automaton or apple-shaped body varieties, are at higher risk of chronic disease than those with fat retention in the hips, buttocks, and thighs, termed gynoid or pear. Shaped body varieties (26 trusted sources, 27 trusted sources, 28 trusted sources, 29 trusted sources).

For example, during a review of seventy-two studies that included knowledge of nearly two and a half million people, researchers found that those with apple-shaped fat distribution had a significantly higher risk of all-cause mortality, while those with pear-shaped fat distribution had a lower risk (30Trusted Source).

The authors noted that BMI does not address where fat stored in the body. Which could misclassify someone as unhealthy or at risk for discomfort (30Trusted Source).

May Lead to Weight Bias

Is Your Bmi A Good Measure Of Your Health

An expert doctor expected to use his best judgment, which means that he would take the BMI result and regard his patient as a new person.

However, some health professionals use BMI alone to assess a person’s health before providing medical advice, which could lead to weight bias and poor quality care (31Trusted Source, 32Trusted Source).

Those with higher BMIs often report that their doctors focus solely on their BMI, even though their appointment is for a problem unrelated to the associate’s degree. Serious medical problems often go unrecognized or are incorrectly thought of as weight-related problems (31Trusted Source).

Studies have shown that the higher a person’s BMI, the less likely they are to attend regular health check-ups due to concern of being judged, mistrust of their provider, or a previous negative experience. this could cause delayed diagnosis, treatment, and care (33Trusted Source).

May Not Be Relevant for All Populations

Despite the wide use of BMI among all adults, it will not accurately reproduce the health of racial and ethnic populations together.

For example, several studies have shown that people of Asian descent are at exaggerated risk of chronic disease at lower BMI levels, compared to Caucasians (34 Trusted Sources, 35 Trusted Sources, 36 Trusted Sources).

The World Health Organization developed BMI indicators for Asia and the Pacific, which provide different BMI cut-off points (2 TSFs, 37 SPs, 38 SPs):

BMI RangeClassification
less than 18.5 kg/m2underweight
18.5–22.9 kg/m2normal weight
23.0–24.9 kg/m2overweight
25.0 kg/m2 or greaterobese

Numerous studies have shown that these different cut-off points further determine health risks among Asian populations. Still, much analysis is required to verify these breakpoints with Asian Americans of various generations (39 trusted supply, 40 trusted supply, 41 trusted source).

Additionally, black people are also misclassified as overweight despite having less fat mass and better muscle mass. this could suggest that the risk of chronic disease occurs at the next BMI cutoff point than in people of other races, especially among black women (35 RTs, 42 RTs, 43 RTs, 44 RTs).

A 2011 study found that black women were considered to be metabolically healthy at cutoff points of 3.0 kg/m2 more than non-blacks, further casting doubt on the quality of BMI for all racial and ethnic teams. (45Trusted Source).

Finally, relying solely on BMI ignores the cultural importance of body size for totally different teams. In some cultures, a higher fat mass is considered healthier and more exciting. Health professionals should consider what “health” means for each person (46 Trusted Source, 47 Trusted Source, 48 Trusted Source).


Considering that important health options, such as surgical procedures and weight loss interventions, BMI, and weight are compatible with the square measure, all health professionals must go beyond BMI to ensure that they are creating patient-centered recommendations.


The BMI considers only a person’s weight and height as a lifetime of health, rather than the individual. Age, gender, race, body composition, history, and alternative factors can affect a person’s weight and health status.

Better Alternatives

Despite the many flaws of the IMC, it is still used as a primary screening tool due to its convenient, efficient, and accessible settings of care.

However, there are square measure alternatives to BMI that will be higher indicators of a person’s health, though each comes with its own set of benefits and drawbacks (49 reliable supply, 50 reliable supply, 51 reliable supply, 52 reliable sources).

Waist Circumference

Is Your Bmi Really A Good Measure Of Your Health (2023) Waist Circumference
Is Your Bmi A Good Measure Of Your Health


A bigger waist circumference (more than 35 inches (85 cm) for women and 40 inches (101.6 cm) for males) implies more body fat in the abdominal area. Which is linked to the next risk of chronic discomfort.


It’s easy to live with, it only requires a tape measure.


It does not consider different body types (eg, apple shape vs. pear shape) and builds (eg, muscle and bone mass).

Waist-to-hip Ratio

Is Your Bmi A Good Measure Of Your Health


A high quantitative ratio (greater than 0.80 in women or greater than 0.95 in men) indicates greater fat reserves in the abdominal area and is related to an increased risk of heart and chronic diseases.

A low quantitative relationship (below or up to zero.80 in girls or not to or up to zero.95 in men) suggests greater fat storage in the hip, which is associated with better health.


It’s easy to live with, it only requires a tape measure and a calculator.


It does not consider different body types (eg, apple shape vs. pear shape) and builds (eg, muscle and bone mass).

Body Fat Percentage

Is Your Bmi Really A Good Measure Of Your Health (2022) Body Fat Percentage


The percentage of body fat a person possesses is known as body fat percentage.


It distinguishes between fat mass and non-fat mass and could be a more accurate illustration of a health risk than BMI.


Convenient assessment tools (such as skinfold measurements. Mobile bioelectric ohmic resistance analysis, and home scales) come with a high risk of error.

More precise tools (such as dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, underwater deliberation, and BodPod) are too expensive and inaccessible to many.

Lab Tests

Is Your Bmi Really A Good Measure Of Your Health (2023) Lab Tests
Is Your Bmi A Good Measure Of Your Health


Laboratory tests are numerous blood measurements and signs that will indicate risk for chronic disease (eg, force per unit area, heart rate, sterols, glucose levels, inflammation).


These tests offer a more elaborate review of a person’s metabolic health and do not rely solely on body fat as a measure of health.


Most of the time, a job is worth it to diagnose or indicate the risk.

Regardless of the assessment tool used, aid professionals mustn’t accept just one piece of evidence. For example, a help expert can live a person’s BMI and waist circumference, and if a concern arises, a biopsy can be done.

It is vital to treat each patient as an individual to determine what health suggests to them: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.


Other body assessment tools are used instead of BMI, such as waist circumference, body fat ratio, and blood tests. Each one, on the other hand, has its own set of benefits and drawbacks.

The Bottom Line

Body mass index (BMI) could be an extremely controversial health assessment tool designed to estimate a person’s body fat and risk of poor health.

Research generally shows an increased risk of chronic disease as the BMI will rise more than the “normal” range. Furthermore, an occasional BMI (below 18.5) is also associated with poor health outcomes.

That said, BMI doesn’t think about different aspects of health, such as age, gender, fat mass, muscle mass, race, genetics, and case history. Furthermore, victimization as a sole predictor of health has been shown to increase weight bias and health inequalities.

Although BMI is useful as a starting point, it should not be the only measure of your health.

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