Body mass index, or BMI, is a measurement designed to tell you the amount of body fat you have in relation to your height and weight. The body mass index is used to let a person know if they have too much body fat that may lead to health problems. Watching your BMI can help you maintain a healthy weight. Having a body mass index that is too high or too low can lead to health problems. The body mass index chart ranges from 16-40. 16 means a person is grossly underweight, while 40 means a person is severely overweight. The chart includes:
The body mass index chart goes from 16-40. The chart has different zones that range from severely underweight to class III obesity. The full BMI breakdown looks like this:
• Under 16 – severely underweight
• 16-20 – underweight
• 20-25 – normal
• 25-30 – overweight
• 30-35 – obese class one
• 35-40 – obese class two
• Over 40 – obese class three
History of Body Mass Index
The body mass index was invented in the early 1800’s by a scientist named Adolphe Quetelet. Quetelet was in the middle of conducting a study on body image in his native Belgium. In its nascent form, the body mass index was referred to as the Quetelet Scale. The term “body mass index" was not coined until Ancel Keys came up with it in the 1970’s as part of his study on weight, height, and obesity.
Keys, nor Quetelet, ever intended the body mass index to be used for individuals. They wanted it to be used on a macro scale that applied to whole populations and groups of people. Nevertheless, body mass index is now used by healthcare professionals, weight loss experts, and athletes.
Limitations of Body Mass Index
BMI has come under intense fire by many groups and individuals. It does have its limitations. The main drawback is that it only takes into consideration a person’s height and weight. There are some people who have more muscle and bone density than others, which can lead to an inaccurate body mass index reading. For example, an athlete who is five foot nine and weighs 200 pounds would be considered obese when looking at the body mass index chart.
Conversely, let’s say there is an individual who is five foot nine, weighs 160 pounds, but smokes, drinks, and does not exercise. That person would be considered healthy according to the body mass index scale.
Groups also point to the fact that the body mass index was originally created in Belgium in the 1800’s, and has never been updated. Sociologists point out that people in the 1800’s were generally smaller in size and stature compared to people now. They also point out the fact that the population sample was limited to people of Belgium descent.
Body Mass Index for Men
A man typically should have a lower BMI reading than a woman because they have more lean muscle mass and less fat. A healthy BMI reading for a man should be between 16-25. A body mass index reading of 26 and above means a man is generally overweight and should consider a regimen of diet and exercise to lower their BMI reading.
Remember that a BMI reading should be used as one of many indicators of your health. You should also go to your health care provider and get other readings such as blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides. Males should also take into consideration their build, athletic background, muscle mass, and bone density. If you have questions regarding your BMI you should see your health care provider.
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