The body Mass Index formula is a body composition formula based upon a man or women’s weight and height. Body mass index is also referred to as BMI. Although it is used to look at the overall body fat composition of a person’s body, it does not actually measure body fat. The body mass index was created in the 1800’s by a Belgium scientist. It is often criticized for being outdated, and inaccurate.
Despite the controversy associated with the body mass index formula, it is still used today by athletes, health care providers, and physical education teachers all over the country. The body mass index uses a formula that takes the person’s weight in pounds, multiplies it by 4.88, then divides that number by their height in inches.
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
The BMI has received a lot of scrutiny from many individuals and organizations for being unrealistic, and not accurate enough. Many people cite that since it was created in Belgium in the 1800’s it does not take into account different body types of other ethnicities, and that people in the 1800’s were generally smaller than they are now.
Opponents of the body mass index formula say that the formula does not take into consideration whether a person’s body is made up of a lot of fat or muscle. For example, a man standing five foot six inches, weighting 180 pounds, with a body fat percentage of a very lean 6% would be classified as obese according to the body mass index for men.
The fact of the matter is, some people have different bone structures, and are built different. Since the BMI only uses height and weight to figure the numbers, it can mislead people who have more bone density into thinking they are overweight.
A growing number of people feel the BMI body mass index needs to be updated. Most cite the fact that people were smaller in stature back then, and that it the numbers are not inclusive of the different builds seen in ethnic groups.
The body mass index formula is the same for men and women. Men and women also use the same chart. The World Health Organization has developed the ranges seen above. It is a general rule of thumb that people who have a BMI of 18.5 – 25% are in a healthy range. The number represents the amount of the body that is fat. For example, if a woman had a body mass index of 24, that would mean she was 24% fat, which according to the chart is normal.
Women tend to have a much higher body mass index number than men because of their body make-ups. Men have a lot more lean muscle mass, while women have more body fat and less lean muscle tissue.
While body mass index is an important number for people to know, it should only be one of many things used in your physical fitness arsenal. People should also use subjective tools, such as how they look and feel. They should also use more objective tests that can accurately detect your body fat percentage.
Women should use their BMI reading as one of many health indicators. Other factors such as blood pressure, family history, and cholesterol should be considered as well. Taking a mosaic approach while using BMI as one of the pieces will help you get a more accurate picture of your health.
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