There many “normal” numbers that we have heard pertaining to health-related issues. As an example, a “normal” blood pressure reading is less than 120/80, a “normal” fasting blood sugar is less than 100, a “normal” cholesterol is less than 200, etc.
The Body-Mass Index (“BMI”) is comprised of the weight of a person in kilograms divided by the square of the height in meters. (Kind of interesting that for a country that measures weight in terms of pounds and height in terms of feet and inches that we also use the BMI that uses kg and meters!) A “normal” BMI is considered less than 25, being “overweight” defined by a BMI between 25 and less than 30 and “obesity” diagnosed with a BMI between 30 and less than 40 and “morbid obesity” being anything above 40.
70% of our population has a BMI greater than 25 and about 35% over 30. This makes the United States one of the most overweight countries in the world. As an aside, the number of deaths attributed to the Covid pandemic just exceeded 200,000 giving us the most amount of death in the world from the virus.
“Normal” numbers do not automatically translate into healthy vs. unhealthy. As an example, the person with a BP of 125/85 is (considered pre-hypertensive) is not necessarily at much greater health risk than a person with 119/79 (normal). Another example: A person with a cholesterol of 201 (hypercholesterolemia) is not necessarily in more danger of having heart blockage than a person with a cholesterol of 199 (normal).
“Numbers” must be broken down to more specifics. In the cholesterol example if a person has a high HDL (“good” cholesterol”) than that person is at less risk than a person with a lower total but higher LDL (“bad” cholesterol) level. Other risk factors play prominent roles as well: if a person has a slightly high cholesterol but no family history of heart attacks/strokes, no problems with high blood pressure or diabetes and a non-smoker, the slightly high cholesterol is probably not a major issue.
Now to the BMI/weight control arena: The BMI does not take into account body composition. As an example, an NFL football running back that stands 6 feet tall and 230 pounds (BMI 31.2) is considered “obese”. However, the player may have a percentage body fat less than 10% making that person a very healthy person.
Your “healthy” BMI does not necessarily need to be less than 25. People are built differently and a much better indicator of “health” is body composition. Additionally, a number of other “risk factors” are involved. As an example, a person with a BMI of 27 with no other medical problems with a clean family history of health issues is much less at risk than a person with a BMI of 24.8 that has a number of other medical conditions and a strong family history of heart disease and cancer.
Please come in for your FREE body composition analysis or if you do not live near our office try to find a gym or other doctor’s office that can provide an accurate body fat/muscle analysis.
Place the BMI in perspective. It is simply a number. Being “healthy” is based on lots of factors.