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In simpler terms BMI stands for Body Mass Index which means the relationship between body weight and height without regard to age or gender.

You might have heard this and that about BMI which may have been confusing and this why here we are going to demystify myths and facts.

  • Just because someone has a normal BMI doesn’t it automatically mean that they’re healthy?
    FACT: Even if your BMI is normal, it doesn’t mean you’re healthy. Eating healthy, exercising, and following up with your health care provider are important regardless of your BMI results.
  • My BMI changes a lot that means something is wrong with me?
    MYTH: Just because your BMI has changed doesn’t necessarily mean something is wrong. It can be as a result of a growth spurt or a change in your diet or exercise. However, like your age, your BMI will grow.
  • If you have a high BMI, you’re overweight!
    MYTH: Keep in mind that BMI is just an estimate for body fat. Most people that fall into the category of overweight or obese also have a high amount of body fat, but some don’t. Example includes Body builders or the muscular individuals who tend to have high score on a BMI chart, inaccurately categorizing those individuals as being overweight or obese. The FACT is they will have a higher BMI due to muscle, not due to body fat.

*WHO World Health Organization

According to research by MRC International Nutrition Group, Public Health Nutrition Unit, Body mass index (BMI) is the cornerstone of the current classification system for obesity and its advantages are widely exploited across disciplines ranging from international surveillance to individual patient assessment. However, like all anthropometric measurements, it is only a surrogate measure of body fatness. Obesity is defined as an excess accumulation of body fat, and it is the amount of this excess fat that correlates with ill-health.  We propose therefore that much greater attention should be paid to the development of databases and standards based on the direct measurement of body fat in populations, rather than on surrogate measures.
In support of this argument we illustrate a wide range of conditions in which surrogate anthropometric measures (especially BMI) provide misleading information about body fat content.  These include: infancy and childhood; ageing; racial differences; athletes; military and civil forces personnel; weight loss with and without exercise; physical training; and special clinical circumstances. We argue that BMI continues to serve well for many purposes, but that the time is now right to initiate a gradual evolution beyond BMI towards standards based on actual measurements of body fat mass”.

BMI Alternative Solution – Waist Hip Ratio
Studies indicate that compared to BMI, Waist Hip Ratio is an effective indicator in identifying cardiovascular disease and diabetes risk.  Waist Hip ratio is the circumference between the waist and the hip.

To calculate the ratio one needs to divide the waist circumference in cm over hip circumference in cm.  To do this one needs to use a tape measure round the navel area for the waist and for the hips measured along its widest part. For example if your waist is 32cm and hips 42cm hence ratio will result to 0.8. If you are a man, your ideal ratio should be 0.9 and below, while if you are a woman, your ideal ratio should be 0.8 and below.

In conclusion with the above findings you don’t go on the guessing side you’re now fully aware what works and what does not, if you are exercising, eating properly and keeping a low fat, high fibre diet then relax you are on the right track!

Flora Kariuki
Wellness Coach Desk