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Is Body Mass Index Obesity Accurate?

Fitday Editor

Is body mass index obesity accurate? In a word, no. Studies show that by comparing two adult women with similar height, weight and BMI, one has twice as much fat as the other one. Body mass index obesity is suppose to measure a person's body fat by using their height and weight. This method would be very accurate if it also measured bone density, fat mass and lean mass, which vary for every person whether they are slim or obese. There is a method used by doctors to determine percent of fat called dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA), which can measure fat mass, lean mass and bone density and is very accurate.

Factors to Consider

The body mass index scale started out years ago for Caucasian women and men, never taking into consideration the different body composition in men and women, much less between the different races. The results of a person's BMI are used to tell what weight category they belong in, the category determining whether the person is overweight, underweight or at an ideal weight. As an example, a category that falls in the 18.6 to 24.9 range is just right, a category that falls below 18.5 is seen as underweight, and a category that falls between 25 to 29 is considered overweight (with anything over 30 being obese).

In reality, a person can fall into the 25 to 29 range and still be slim and in good health, but have more lean mass and bone density; the opposite is also true. Other things that can cause the body mass index obesity to be inaccurate are hydration state and bone mineral content.

Body Mass Index Obesity vs. The Tape Measure

Some studies have shown that by simply measuring your waist circumference, arm's and leg's is a better way of determining if a person is overweight. Some believe that a combination of using the BMI and a tape measure will give very accurate readings as to a person's overhaul health.

A quote from the National Institutes of Health says, "a bigger waist circumference (greater than 40 inches for men and 35 inches for women) is linked to a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol levels, and heart disease when BMI is 25 to 34.9." This would seem to be the reason why using a tape measure in conjunction with the BMI is recommended.

Becoming Healthier

If your body mass index obesity shows you to be toward the high end, and your waist measurements agree, your health care provider should put you on a healthier diet and start you on a regular exercise program. Losing weight and getting in shape will improve blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol.

We all want to live a long and healthy life watching our children and grandchildren grow up. By taking care of our bodies through healthy eating and regular exercise, we will come closer to that goal.

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