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What is BMI and How Does It Affect Your Health?

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BMI — or body mass index — is a formula used to measure your body fat. Your BMI is calculated by dividing your weight (in pounds) by your height (in inches). While BMI is a fairly reliable indicator of whether or not an individual is overweight, it does not specify your exact percentage of body fat. It also does not account for important health factors such as age, gender, ethnicity and muscle mass.

Because the BMI has its limitations, it should only be used as a tool to identify potential weight problems and their associated health risks. It should not be used as a diagnostic tool. Depending upon the individual, other measures of body fat may be more accurate, such as waist circumference and body composition.

Nevertheless, the higher your BMI, the greater your risk of developing a number of serious medical conditions, including: Type 2 diabetes.

  • High blood pressure (hypertension).
  • Cardiovascular disease.
  • Stroke.
  • Gallbladder disease.
  • Osteoarthritis.
  • Sleep apnea and respiratory problems.
  • Some cancers (especially endometrial, breast and colon).

For men and women over the age of 20, a healthy BMI “score” falls between 18.5 and 24.9. Men with a BMI of 25.0 to 29.9 are considered overweight, and a BMI over 30.0 is classified as obese. Use this BMI calculator to get a preliminary indication of whether or not your weight might be affecting your health.

There are many benefits to lowering your BMI and keeping your weight within a healthy range, including:

  • Increased energy levels.
  • Reduced risk of contracting heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers.
  • Improved sleep.
  • Fewer joint problems.
  • Lower blood pressure.
  • Lower cholesterol.

If you are currently overweight, research shows that losing even three to five percent of your body weight can reduce your exposure to the health problems associated with obesity. To maintain a healthy BMI, eat a lean, nutritious diet and exercise regularly. If you need to lose weight, talk to your doctor about which weight loss program will work best for you.

If your efforts to lose weight through diet and exercise alone have proven unsuccessful, weight loss surgery may be a viable option. According to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, if you have a BMI of at least 40, or are more than 100 pounds overweight, you may qualify for bariatric surgery. Individuals with a BMI of at least 35 and who already have at least one obesity-related comorbidity — such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, lipid abnormalities, osteoarthritis, gastrointestinal disease or heart disease — may also be likely candidates for achieving a healthy BMI via a bariatric surgical procedure.

To find out if surgery can help you achieve and sustain healthy weight loss, contact McCarty Weight Loss Center today.