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Bmi Isn't The Best Measure Of Weight

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Body Mass Index (BMI) provides an easy way to measure obesity, but more doctors are questioning its accuracy and usefulness.

BMI is supposed to estimate the amount of body fat a person carries based on height and weight, and categorizes people based on what is appropriate for their size. BMI readings under 18.5 mean you are underweight, and could put on a few pounds. If you fall between 18.5 and 24.9, youre considered normal, while a BMI of 30 or higher qualifies as overweight.

But in recent years, more researchers argue that its not the most accurate way to measure body weight. For years, scientists have said that BMI cant distinguish between fat and muscle, which tends to be heavier and can tip more toned individuals into overweight status, even if their fat levels are low. In the journal Science, the latest data from University of Pennsylvania shows that BMI also doesnt tease apart different types of fat, each of which can have different metabolic effects on health. BMI cannot take into consideration, for example, where the body holds fat. Belly fat[1], which is known as visceral fat, is more harmful than fat that simply sitting under the skin. Visceral fat develops deep among muscles and around organs like the liver and by releasing certain hormones and other agents, it disrupts the bodys ability to balance its energy needs. Even relatively thin people can have high levels of visceral fat, which means they might be considered healthy by BMI standards, but internally they may actually be at higher risk of developing health problems related to weigh gain.

(MORE: Five Things Youre Getting Wrong About Weight and Weight Loss[2])

In April of last year, a study published in the journal PLoS One documented such inconsistencies and questioned the accuracy of using BMI to classify weight status of 1,400 men and women. As TIME reported[3]:

Among the study participants, about half of women who were not classified as obese according to their BMI actually were obese when their body fat percentage was taken into account. Among the men, in contrast, about a quarter of obese men had been missed by BMI. Further, a quarter who were categorized as obese by BMI were not considered obese based on their body fat percentage. Overall, about 39% of participants who were classified as overweight by their BMI were actually obese, according to their percent body fat.

(MORE: 6 Weight Loss Tips Straight from the Nations Premier Spas[4])

So why is BMI still the preferred way to measure weight and evaluate obesity? For one, its a relatively easy measurement for doctors to take during an office visit. Taking a persons height and weight and plugging it into an equation produces a number that informs doctors about whether their patients are at high, low or no risk when it comes to weight-related health problems.

But there may be better ways to measure body fat that provide more useful readings on how likely a persons weight will contribute to chronic health problems. CT scans and MRIs can provide a clearer glimpse at the bodys make-up by separating out fat from muscle, for example. But these are expensive and involved compared to stepping on a scale. Other types of scans, including dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) images, which are normally used to measure bone density, can also distinguish between fat from bone and muscle mass, but are also costly.

On the more practical level, some researchers have been pushing for using waist circumference[5] or even wrist circumference[6] to gauge potentially harmful weight gain and fat depots, but the evidence supporting this measurement and its ability to predict future health problems isnt definitive enough yet.

So without a viable way to change how we measure body fat, for now, BMI is the best option. The study authors argue that perhaps doctors should rely on not just assessing body composition but measuring hormones and biomarkers in the blood or urine, for example, to get a better handle on abnormal processes that may contribute to obesity and chronic disease. And until such tests become available, BMI may still prove useful yet if doctors combine BMI with a comprehensive evaluation of their patients medical history and lifestyle habits to get a meaningful, if not yet perfectly precise picture of their weight-related health.

References

  1. ^ Belly fat (www.time.com)
  2. ^ Five Things Youre Getting Wrong About Weight and Weight Loss (healthland.time.com)
  3. ^ TIME reported (healthland.time.com)
  4. ^ 6 Weight Loss Tips Straight from the Nations Premier Spas (healthland.time.com)
  5. ^ waist circumference (www.time.com)
  6. ^ Can Wrist Size Help Predict Childrens Heart Disease Risk? (healthland.time.com)

Original Story Here

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Comments

  1. Reply

    What Are Some Good Ab Exercises? I’m really skinny and I really don’t have any fat in the abdomen area, but I’m trying to get my abs defined. A lot of the articles for ab exercises I’m seeing have things like “fat loss tips for great abs”. Since I don’t need to lose fat, I’m wondering if I need to do different kinds of exercises than what those articles are suggesting.
    I’m also doing cardio exercises. Should I do ab exercises before or after I do cardio? Or should I do them at completely separate times?

    View Comment
      • HealthNut
      • August 27, 2013
      Reply

      They say so, because you do have fat on top of your abs, you just do not need to lose it anywhere else. Or little flab.
      jogging is an excellent exercise because it let you tone throughout your whole body. If you want to tone in
      specific areas, you should target them with exercises. If they are
      your problem areas, they will be very difficult to tone. You will have
      to work double on them. The best approach is this:
      1. Lower/control your daily calorie intake (control for normal
      weight, lower for overweight).
      2. Run/jog to lower your overall body fat percentage.
      3. Target your problem areas with exercises.
      an excellent exercise, you can do it in front of your TV: sit on a
      stool, and put your toes under something (piece of heavy furniture,
      for example). In your hands hold a little dumbbell. Please, make sure
      that it is not very heavy, start with one kilo, for example, or you
      will damage your back and spine! Slowly move the upper part of your
      body back, until it’s parallel with the ground. Stop for a second and
      move it back to the sitting position. Repeat ten times. Every week add
      to the number of repetitions. You will see the results in a week,
      guaranteed! You will see or feel under the fat – if you have any – six
      pack and muscles. Dumbbells do wonders. Much better than these
      crunches – I came up to three hundreds and there was no results AT
      ALL. With the dumbbells you will see it in a week.

      View Comment
  2. Reply

    How Do I Get In Shape Over The Summer? I weigh 130 plus pounds and I’m 13 years old. But the 130 pounds is mostly fat. By fall when school starts again, I want to have lost some fat and gained some muscle. Every day I play DDR (Dance Dance Revolution) on difficult, and it is difficult, I sweat my butt off every time. I also go to the pool and swim 24 laps every other day. But I haven’t seen any results. Should I keep doing what I’m doing, or should I add something on? Please give me some fat loss tips, thanks!

    View Comment
      • HealthNut
      • August 27, 2013
      Reply

      First of all…good for you for working out and taking charge of your health. I am sure you are a beautiful person.
      How’s your diet?
      Are you eating enough protein? Are you eating a lot of empty carbs like pastries….? How’s your sugar intake?
      Sometimes the scale doesn’t change but our bodies do. Try taking measurements. I had lost 13 inches off of my body….but only 10 lbs on the scale.
      Keep in mind that muscle weighs more than fat.
      Keep a food journal – it will hold you accountable. Look up online how many calories you should eat based on your age, height, weight, and activity level.
      Hope this helps sweetie and best wishes.

      View Comment
  3. Reply

    Am I Doing Well On The First Day Of My Diet? Anything I Shouldn’t Eat And Any Tips? I’m 14 and I’m going on my very first diet so that I can lose belly fat for the summer. I’m doing exercise as well as watching what I eat and counting calories. I only plan to lose around 7 pounds, so I have 3 months. I was wondering if there’s anything I ate so far that I shouldn’t of ate and what I should avoid eating in the future? Also does anyone have any belly fat loss tips?

    SunBest Fruit Biscuits Apples & Raisins – 168 cal.
    1 whole wheat flour tortilla with half a cup of refried beans – 240 cal.
    1 cup of cheerios and half a cup of organic whole milk – 175 cal.
    1 cup of split pea soup – 160 cal.

    So that all comes to around 745 calories. I haven’t had dinner or a midnight snack yet, so I know that by the time the day is over I’ll have eaten at least 1100 calories.

    View Comment
  4. Reply

    What Is Are Some Of Your Favorite Weight Loss Tips? What are some of your most succesfull weight loss tips?? I have my few that I live by, but I am looking for some tips on cutting down. Please only share different/ unique tips.
    I know about all the common ones…. lots of water lots of rest six small meals etc.

    thank you so much in advance!

    View Comment
      • HealthNut
      • August 27, 2013
      Reply

      Hi CollegeGirl

      In my opinion, no weight loss tips are truly successful on their own. Lots of water is not necessarily a good way, because how much water a person needs depends on the BMI of the person. 6 small meals maybe hard at times, especially when you are stuck at school or office and have no chance to eat, and then you need to eat more when you have the chance. Well, dieting is a good way to lose weight, but then it is hard to stick to a diet. For example, something like this:

      Breakfast:
      2 egg, low fat Cheddar cheese omelette – 320 calories
      2 slices wholemeal toast with thin smear butter – 200 calories
      Large slice melon – 47 calories

      Lunch:
      Spicy Turkey Salad recipe – 304 calories

      Snack:
      Muesli or honey nut Health Bar “Sainsbury” – 180 calories

      Dinner:
      Baked potato with 100g “Heinz” baked beans &/or Cottage cheese if desired – 300 – 400 calories (350 average)
      Large helping salad fruits &/or vegetables – 100 calories

      Another weight loss tip is to do interval and turbulence exercise.

      Turbulence Training is a fresh plan that requires finishing three 45-minute exercise sessions each week with marginal equipment. It is an increasingly trend-setting fitness plan with the intention of helping you in the reduction of weight.

      Interval training is the fitness world’s equivalent of a visit to the in-laws. The shorter and more intense the visit, the better. An interval is a short period of exercise performed at a given intensity for a specific length of time. Each interval is separated from the next interval by a short rest or lighter activity. There are no strict rules on how long or how intense the interval must be, however, changing the interval length or intensity changes the way your body works and responds to exercise.

      But people have a short willpower. It may be strong at the beginning but will eventually fade as time goes on- as they realize that going on a diet is not actually as easy as they think it is. Of course, the strength of willpower differs from one person to another. This is the reason why there are people who can actually maintain a diet and exercise program for 1 year and there are people who can only maintain it for few months. Nonetheless, willpower is a big factor that dictates someone whether to continue losing weight or not.

      And in my opinion, besides sticking to a diet and exercise plan, it is the ultimate willpower to stop yourself from overeating that is the #1 tip to lose weight. But that is the hardest part if you are accustomed to eating lots of food even though your body does not need it. It is partly because of the delicious taste of the food causing a craving for more. There are certain ways to fight this craving ad I found one that maybe helpful. It is a type of chocolate that can actually suppress your appetite. It will can provide Good Energy that promotes a healthy weight by providing energy while burning fat. And it helps suppress cravings for sugary snacks.

      Good luck!

      PS: Information on the Special Chocolate that I mentioned can be found on the website in the source box. Recently, they are giving away a one month free trial.

      View Comment
  5. Reply

    How Should I Train For Cross Country Running And Loose Weight?? I am overweight and want to start cross country in fall (end of august/ begining of sept. so 4-5 months) I can’t run for more than 300-600 feet at a time and need to build up to the 3 mile (5K). I need training tips and weight-loss/ fat loss tips. Any help is appriciated!!!!
    Dani, I know you answered my other question. I was trying to get a variety of answers.

    View Comment
      • HealthNut
      • August 27, 2013
      Reply

      The best thing would be to start jogging now. Start at a managable pace and go for as long as you can. You just have to build up to it. When I started running I could only do a mile, after a while of doing that and gradually adding more distance, I got up to 4 miles. As far as weightloss – cardio is the best way, so stick to the running. Try a stationary bike if you can’t get outside much, but cycling on a stationary and running are completely different, so you definitely want to train with running.

      View Comment

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