By Aleisha K. Fetters; Photography by Pixabay
Forget about BMI.
You lift weights, eat healthy foods, and fit into your jeans. So why the hell is your doctor telling you that you’re at an unhealthy weight according to the body mass index (BMI)?
Welp, BMI, once the gold standard for assessing a person’s weight—and overall longevity—has fallen out of favour. And if you’re trying to lose weight, having a BMI in the overweight or obesity range, even if you’re doing everything right, can be a huge downer.
We’ve asked experts for the biggest reasons why your BMI is totally off base and the best way to get a feel for how your health measures up.
1. It’s Ancient
“BMI was created about 200 years ago as a way to estimate obesity,” says Dr. Leslie Cho, director of the Cleveland Clinic Women’s Cardiovascular Center. But it doesn’t actually measure the fat on your frame. It’s literally a weight-to-height ratio, considering no other factors (sex, bone density, race).
2. It Confuses Fit With Fat
Athlete? Have a lot of lean-muscle mass? You could still have a BMI that qualifies as overweight or obese, even though you may be in great shape. According to a 2016 study, 47 percent of people in the overweight BMI category—along with 29 percent classified as obese—are actually healthy.
3. It Can’t Fully Measure Health
On the flip side, the same study also found that more than 30 percent of people with so-called healthy BMIs have too-high blood pressure, cholesterol, inflammation levels, or insulin resistance, the hallmark of Type 2 diabetes. Those are all truer tests of your actual wellness. (Kick-start your new, healthy routine with Women’s Health’s Lean Body Blitz!)
The bottom line: Waist circumference is a far better gauge of your health. It may not consider things like ethnicity either, but excessive abdominal fat is a universal red flag. For women, measurements of 35 inches or more (around the top of the hip bones) are consistently linked with an increased risk for chronic disease. And if you’re going to step on the scale, choose one that calculates full body composition—i.e., your lean and fat mass.
Looking for more? Here are five basic rules you need to follow to erase belly fat.
This article was originally published on www.womenshealthmag.com