Nutrition News: BMI and Your Health by Dana Angelo White in Food News, February 6, 2013
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By now you’ve heard the long list of health risks associated with packing on extra pounds, but a recent study suggests that a higher BMI may actually lead to a longer life. So now being overweight is good for you? That’s not the whole story!
What is BMI?
Body Mass Index or BMI is a calculation that measures weight while adjusting for height. Here’s the formula for you math lovers:
Weight (kilograms) ÷ [Height (meters)]²
A BMI above 24.9 categorizes someone as overweight, while a BMI over 30 classifies someone as obese. When a less than stellar BMI is paired with other risk factors like smoking, physical inactivity or excessive waist circumference, your risk of chronic disease goes up. As BMI increases so does the risks diseases like heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Making Sense of the Science
A 2013 report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association supported that obese people were still at greater risk for mortality, but those who were overweight actually had a lower mortality risk than those who were at a normal weight.
While one study never makes fact, this analysis did look at almost 100 studies and 3 million people and that gives it more weight (pun intended).
BMI is certainly not a perfect measurement and while it does look at weight and height, it doesn’t differentiate between fat and lean body mass. A lot of very fit athletes may have a BMI that classifies them as overweight or even obese because of the extra muscle they carry. Then again, most Americans are not fit athletes.
Bottom Line: The findings of this report do raise interesting questions about weight and overall health and there’s a need for more research. This report does provide more evidence that BMI alone isn’t the only way to evaluate health.