BMI Can Indicate Wellness, Potential Health Issues

Heart Health News

When talking about your overall health, your primary care provider might be more concerned about your body mass index (BMI) than about your weight alone.

BMI is determined by finding the ratio of your weight to your height squared, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Rather than taking a straight measurement of a person’s weight without taking height into account, using BMI accounts for taller people having more tissue than shorter people, according to the CDC.

Your BMI is an accurate estimate of your total body fat, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The more fat a person carries on their body, the greater their risk for a variety of diseases, according to the NIH, including:

Though your primary care provider cannot use your BMI to diagnose these health issues, it can be used as a screening tool to indicate whether your weight could increase your chances of having a health problem, according to the NIH.

It is important to know your BMI, according to the NIH. Understanding your BMI can help you maintain a weight to lower your risk of developing health problems, feel good about yourself, and have more energy to enjoy life.

You can use a chart provided by your primary care provider or find one online to determine your BMI. You also can use an online BMI calculator, such as the one provided by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute here. Type in your height and weight, and the calculator will provide your BMI.

BMI is categorized, according to the NIH, in the following breakdown:

  • Less than 18.5 – underweight
  • 18.5 to 24.9 – normal weight
  • 25 to 29.9 – overweight
  • 30 or greater – obese

If you check your BMI at home and are concerned – especially if you have a family history of health problems such as heart disease and high blood pressure – ask your provider what steps you can take to help lower your BMI.

Some things your primary care provider might recommend, according to the NIH, could include:

  • Creating and following a healthy eating plan – Give your body the nutrients it needs without going over your needed calories for the day. Emphasize fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low fat dairy. Include lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts. Avoid trans fats, high-cholesterol foods, high-sodium foods, and added sugars. Control your portion sizes and limit your calorie intake.
  • Increasing your physical activity level – Being more active will help you lose weight and keep it off. If you haven’t been physically active in awhile, start slowly and build up. For example, start with a 15 minute walk three times a week and continue adding to your speed and the length of time you walk.
  • Setting weight loss goals – Losing 1-2 pounds per week is a reasonable goal. Trying to lose 5 percent to 10 percent of your total current weight over a 6-month period will lower your risk of health conditions, such as heart disease. It is better to lose small amounts of weight over a long period of time than to lose a lot of weight at once and then regain it.

For more information about how BMI affects your health, talk with your doctor or visit to find a physician.

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