Body mass index (BMI) has been used for years as a way of assessing whether we are in a healthy weight range. However weight is not always an accurate indicator of health, even when related to height. Is there a better way?
The formula is simple. Divide your weight in kilograms by the square of your height in metres. The healthy range of BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9.
The range of measurements of the human body mean that BMI is only a rough guide. It can make shorter people think they are too thin and taller people that they are too fat. The main issue is that BMI as a health measure dates from the 1970s. It does not take into account recent evidence that body fat levels and where fat is carried are important factors in health.
Fat cells are an essential part of our life processes. Too little body fat is a risk to health, but so is too much. Excess body fat increases the chance of diabetes and heart problems, as well as the overall problems caused by carrying around too much weight.
Location of body fat also matters, which is why waist-to-height ratio is another good measure of health.There is now compelling evidence that excess abdominal fat affects organ function and may even increase the risk of cancer.
The correct range for body fat percentage varies with age and gender, but the guidelines are 14-17% for men and 21-24% for women. The figure cannot be measured just by observation, so there are several ways to measure body fat. Calipers or body fat scales will give enough for a guide for most of us.
There’s no doubt that it is probably time to ditch the scales. For a real indicator of health, check your fat levels.
hmm - body fat may not be measurable by observation, but there have been times when a look in a full-length mirror certainly says that it is time for action! And the article is right, the scales don't tell the whole story.