The body mass index, or BMI, is an indicator for assessing the “fatness” of a person. Weight-for-height ratio has long been used to define underweight, normal, overweight, or some degree of obesity. People who are identified as overweight or obese should think about their health, make an appointment with a nutritionist and adjust their diet in such a way as to gradually lose weight. However, the usefulness of BMI is often questioned by experts, who say it misidentifies many people out of its category, which can underestimate or overestimate possible metabolic and physical health problems.
Seeing a Dietitian: When in Doubt
In the case when there are doubts about the correctness of one’s own diet and health problems are clearly expressed, it will not be superfluous to make an appointment with a nutritionist. The specialist will help to understand the problems, adjust the usual diet in such a way that it helps to maintain a healthy body weight. A telephone consultation is necessary, and even better, an appointment with a nutritionist if there are health problems against the background of BMI deviations. Moreover, BMI deviations are important both in the direction of deficiency and excess of mass. Also, an appointment with a nutritionist can be advised by a therapist, endocrinologist or other doctors if they have identified diseases that, among other things, also include dietary treatment, weight loss. But if a non-professional uses BMI in weight assessment, then erroneous judgments are possible.
So, when defining it, some people, for example, can be classified as overweight or obese when they are actually healthy, have a large amount of not fat, but muscle mass. At the same time, people who believe that their normal BMI means that there are no health problems may be left without due attention of specialists. What are the pros and cons of determining BMI, will it help in the work of a nutritionist?
Assessment of body mass dynamics
BMI does not measure body fat, but determines the ratio of body weight to the height of the patient. It is a simple baseline that you can use to evaluate your progress if a person is trying to lose weight or gain weight. The transition from the category of “overweight” to the category of “normal weight” undoubtedly lifts the mood of losing weight, gives strength and confidence. However, some experts say that this is some kind of arbitrary dividing line, an average figure.
BMI also provides useful information to doctors and coaches about potential health risks for a patient. For example, if a person is overweight or obese according to BMI, the doctor may conduct an in-depth examination to rule out problems associated with excess body fat. These include hypertension, high cholesterol, or type 2 diabetes. Having determined according to BMI that there is overweight, the patient may be concerned about his health by contacting a doctor.
Overweight is not always fat!
Since BMI does not distinguish between fat and muscle mass, some athletes and fitness enthusiasts are considered overweight because they are more muscular. So, if you calculate the BMI of bodybuilders, it can exceed 30.0 — this is the value that is considered a sign of obesity. Obviously, in this case, BMI does not objectively assess excess weight. An even bigger problem arises when the calculations work in the opposite direction, placing a person with a metabolic disorder in the category of normal weight. Decreased muscle strength and insufficient aerobic exercise are associated with an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, regardless of weight or BMI. Therefore, nutritionists and doctors of other specialties evaluate the indicator only in combination with external data, complaints and assessment of metabolic processes according to the analysis.
In addition, there are people who are overweight, but they are somatically healthy. In many ways, when assessing the general condition, it is necessary to rely on the features of the constitution, lifestyle, nutrition, the ratio of fat and muscle mass, before drawing final conclusions.
The essence of BMI: assessing the severity of obesity
The true value of BMI lies in the simplicity of its determination, and not in its perfect accuracy. A patient can find out their BMI by dividing their weight in kilograms by their height in meters squared, or simply by using an online calculator. The resulting value can be useful for determining the boundaries of overweight and obesity, forecasts for one’s own health. Calculating BMI in overweight individuals can help determine how severe obesity is in order to start the fight against it. The main goal should be to improve the score, and this can only be done by comparing the current BMI with earlier measurements. For many people who are obese, lowering their BMI is a positive incentive to improve their diet and increase their physical activity.
Additional tips, nutrition correction
Before you start adjusting your diet and expanding the amount of physical activity, it is important to pay attention to one more nuance. Regardless of which BMI is determined, it is always useful to measure waist circumference as well. Abdominal fat is much more dangerous to health than the fat deposits that are stored in other parts of the body. The presence of abdominal fat requires more radical changes in nutrition and active actions to correct metabolic disorders. This is due to the fact that at the same time as the waist, internal organs “get fat”, their work is disrupted, plus, fat cells exhibit hormonal activity, negatively affecting metabolism.
Experts specify that men are at an increased risk of health problems if their waist circumference exceeds 100 cm, and the threshold for women is 90 cm.
If a high BMI and dangerous values of waist circumference are determined, the help of a nutritionist is needed in compiling a diet, smooth weight loss and expanding the range of physical activity. It is important to change the diet in such a way that the weight is lost smoothly, without sudden jumps, and does not come back. It is necessary to rebuild the metabolism not to store fats, but to actively spend them on the formation of energy. Then the body will gradually get used to the new mode of operation, and a healthier body weight will be maintained.