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Body Mass Index

February 17, 2012 by staff 

Body Mass Index, I have a thing for statistics and figures. It’s just me. When I was a child, my brothers would tell me I only remembered useless little bits of information that did not mean anything to anyone else but me! Well, now that I am all grown up and am a nutritionist, our nation is in an obesity epidemic, statistics and figures quoted constantly as part of my job. I hope my preoccupation with numbers means something to more than just me.

For one thing, I now know that I am technically in a minority category. Not because of my race or gender but because I am 1 of 3 Americans still WITHIN a healthy weight range meaning my body mass index (BMI) is somewhere between 18.5 and 24.9 (don’t pin me down to a number here). To be honest, my BMI creeps up every winter as I semi-hibernate after a spring, summer, and fall overfilled with activity. And for those of you disbelievers in the BMI, whatever the excuse (big bones, you are all muscle and muscle weighs more than fat. I have heard them all). To review, BMI (body mass index) is a screening tool used to measure weight in relation to height. While BMI does not measure body fat directly, it is considered an accurate tool to determine weight status.

Another way to assess your weight is to measure your waist size (circumference). Your waistline may be telling you something, you have a higher risk of developing an obesity-related health condition IF you are a man whose waist circumference is more than 40 inches or a non-pregnant woman whose waist circumference is more than 35 inches.

So, my BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9, and my waist circumference is less than 35” (and that is my winterized waistline) so, I’m golden, right? I won’t live forever, but my chance of living longer than those with a higher BMI value are statistically better. In case you haven’t heard, or did not want to know, it is not NEW news that people with higher BMIs are more likely to die sooner.

And now, the figures I so often quote, here’s where it gets thick – no pun intended. (I should list a warning label here as reading these stats have been known to cause a certain amount of stress and discomfort. To be honest, I find myself actually holding my breath and folding my arms across my belly even as I write this.)

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