Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends….

Original Publish Date:  Feb 15, 2017

Q:  Mr. Pedometer, how accurate are those charts showing Body Mass Index as indicators of health?

A:  February is Heart Health Month, and so this question is timely.  A recent article published by the Bay Area News Group helps provide the answer.

The article notes that Body Mass Index (BMI) is believed by medical professionals to be “a fairly good indicator of a person’s overall health and degree of disease risk.  Roughly speaking, it’s a ratio between height and weight.”

Studies have shown that “a high BMI is associated with such health risks as Type 2 (adult-onset) diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, gallbladder disease, cancer (of the breast, colon, pancreas, kidney, and thyroid), and mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.”

However, the article notes that BMI does not distinguish between muscle and fat weight, nor where the weight is distributed.  A simpler measurement – and easier to calculate—is one’s waist measurement.  “Researchers at the National Institutes of Health have found that, at the same BMI level, men with a waist measurement of 40 inches or more, and women with a measurement of 35 inches or more, are at a greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other serious health issues that those with smaller waist measurements.”

Surprisingly, a low BMI actually may be more dangerous than a high one.  “The health risks associated with low BMI include increased risks of deficiencies in important vitamins and nutrients; of getting sick or developing infections, since being underweight reduces immune system function; of developing respiratory problems and lung disease; and, for women, of miscarriage.”

So the answer to your question seems to be that one should not ignore one’s BMI, but also one should check waist measurement as a predictor of wellness.

To put it even more simply, EAT RIGHT, MOVE MORE, BE WELL!