The Guide To BMI For Men
Open any fitness magazine or check into a health website and you will quickly see the letters ‘BMI’. The shortened form of Body Mass Index, BMI has long been the buzz-phrase for just how healthy – or not – your weight is. But what exactly is it, how accurate can it be and what does a healthy BMI for the average Joe look like?
If you’re worried your own BMI is not what it should be or are tad confused as to what BMI is and whether it even really matters, then help is at hand. We weigh into the debate with our lowdown on the Body Mass Index:
What Is BMI?
The concept of the Body Mass Index is nothing new, in fact it has been around since the 1830s when it was devised by a Belgian astronomer and mathematician as a basic formula to work out a healthy weight.
BMI started to be used more widely in the early 20th Century when medical researchers made a connection between early mortality rates and obesity or excess weight. However, the measure didn’t really hit the mainstream until the 1970s when the version of BMI we know today really came into play.
Why BMI Is Used
BMI became one of the most common ways of predicting obesity-related diseases after researchers realized that there was a correlation between BMI and death caused by coronary-related diseases such as heart attacks, hypertension and stroke.
The beauty of BMI for the medical profession is its simplicity. As a general measure of a person’s weight and body fat, it is cheap, non-invasive and easy to do. It can also be used as an indicator of potential health issues such as Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoarthritis and joint disease. However, for doctors, it’s just one of the tools they use, and they should also look at other factors such as cholesterol and blood sugar levels, family health history, age and diet to assess an individual’s health risk.
How BMI Is Calculated
Simply put, BMI is calculated by dividing your weight in kilograms by your height in meters squared. This then gives a figure which indicates whether your weight is within healthy parameters – your own, personal Body Mass Index.
To calculate your BMI, you only need two measurements – your height and weight. Now, get ready to do some math:
- Divide your weight in kilograms by your height in meters
- Then divide the answer by your height again to get your BMI.
This means that if you weighed 75kg, and you are 1.8m tall, first divide 75 by 1.8 to get 41.66. Then divide 41.66 by 1.8 and you get 23.14. This is your BMI.
A low BMI indicates you are underweight, while a high BMI can put you on the overweight or even obese scale and can be seen as an indicator of potential health problems. However, it’s important to remember that BMI is intended as a guide and is not a definitive formula for weight and health risk.
BMI Ranges For Men
The World Health Organization considers an adult male who has a BMI of between 18.5 and 24.9 as having a normal, healthy weight. However, a BMI between 25 and 29.9 has been defined as overweight, while an adult who has a BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese. A BMI below 18.5 is considered underweight.
The above scale relates to adults over the age of 20 – there is a separate scale for under 20s as they are still considered to be growing. And don’t forget, as you get to your senior years your BMI will drop as you lose muscle mass as a natural part of the aging process.
How Accurate Is BMI?
The BMI system used today does take into account certain factors such as age as older people lose body mass while children and young people are still developing theirs. However, its general ‘one size fits all’ formula can be problematic as it doesn’t account for people’s physical differences and abilities, meaning results can be skewed if you fall out of the ‘norm’.
For example, it can misread muscle mass as body fat – think about an elite athlete or bodybuilder for example – giving a ‘false’ BMI reading that in reality, is not reflective of the individual’s actual body condition or fitness. Similarly, a slim chap who lives the life of a couch potato can have a healthy BMI reading even if a personal trainer would see him as unfit and needing to up his cardio! It can also over-estimate BMI for people of shorter stature or under-estimate for very tall adults. And as individuals can also work out their own BMI, this means that when comparing their number to the healthy range chart, they could start to worry unnecessarily about a weight problem they really don’t have.
What To Do If Your BMI Is High
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the average BMI for men in the US is currently around 29.1 and 29.6 for women. When looking at the BMI scale, this is above the normal range and categorized as ‘overweight’ so certainly food for thought. But as we’ve seen, the BMI is only an indicator and shouldn’t just be taken on face value as there can be other variables such as height or muscle mass at play.
If your BMI is coming in as higher than you expected despite all those hours in the gym, don’t panic as you can do something about it. One way to check if you really do need to lose a few pounds is to measure your waistline – if it’s 40 inches or over (or you have put on a few inches since the last time you checked) then now’s the time to re-think your diet and exercise regime. The key to BMI is to keep it within a natural healthy range for you and your body shape – this can help you maintain the right weight and protect against obesity-related diseases. And it goes without saying that if you are concerned about your BMI in anyway, make an appointment and have a chat with your doc. Yes, BMI is only an indicator, but your health and wellbeing is the real deal.