Original blog written by Melanie Lacy, MSN,CPNP-AC,NP-C.
Each of us has probably discussed Body Mass Index (BMI) at some point with our Primary Care Provider (PCP). That’s because BMI can be a useful tool for measuring the state of a person’s body conditioning and wellness. However, some people believe that BMI may be a somewhat controversial method of measuring the health of an individual. So, what is the truth? What does body mass index mean exactly? I wanted to take some time to discuss just that today.
Body Mass Index, or BMI, was first created to measure the “fatness” of a body inexpensively and quickly. It was first created to be a screening tool that could help healthcare providers predict potential health risks. It was not, however, meant to be a diagnostic of a person’s overall health. In spite of that, studies have shown that adult patients with a higher BMI have a higher occurrence of many health concerns when compared to those with a lower BMI. These health risks include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, stroke, heart attack, sleep apnea, and arthritis to name a few.
BMI: Weight Status:
Below 18.5 Underweight
18.5 – 24.9 Normal or Healthy Weight
25.0 – 29.9 Overweight
30.0 and Above Obese
So, how accurate is BMI? The answer is that it varies. BMI is a calculated figure that is based primarily on the height and weight of an individual. This, therefore, means that a small person with a genetic predisposition to a lower weight could in fact be unhealthy as compared to an athlete with higher BMI but more muscle mass. Most importantly, when evaluating one’s health, we healthcare providers want to see good blood pressure, normal cholesterol, and normal blood sugars. We want our patients to eat a healthy diet full of fruits, vegetables, and lean meats. We want our patients to avoid processed foods. Additionally, we believe in the benefit of exercise to build strong bones and muscles, to maintain mobility and balance, to stimulate energy and to increase mood. Whether your BMI is 23 or 33, a healthy diet, exercise, and regular preventive care all remain important positive predictors of overall health.
Here at Family Practice Center, we love working with our patients on goal setting to help better promote a healthy lifestyle and to prevent preventable health conditions in the future. If you are interested in learning more about BMI, as well as information about healthy dieting and exercise and on the health risks associated with obesity, visit The Center for Disease Control and Prevention website or contact Family Practice Center today. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook for additional health tips, news, and much more.