If there is anything that I hate more, it is being put in a societal norm box. Wanna know why one really gets under my nerves? You guessed it ... BMI.
In this article I will cover:
- what BMI is,
- how and why it was created
- what it doesn't account for
- better ways of measuring health
What is BMI???
Health professionals use BMI to quickly categorize a patient as to whether they are healthy or not. The term BMI stands for "Body Mass Index" and is found by dividing your height by your weight. This value then gives you a numerical value that is given in ranges of "health." These categories are "underweight, normal weight, overweight, and obesity."
How and why was BMI created?
BMI was created for insurance purposes, I mean that statement alone makes sense right? The kicker is that it was created to categorize individuals to see if they were at risk for diseases and disorders. The problem about BMI is that it was created in the 70's and the standards (which the categories are based off of) were collected from higher socioeconomic class, white males and females in their early 30's, who were relatively healthy.
What it doesn't account for.
Okay with that last statement as to where BMI was taken from should be alarming from the get-go. I mean first off the fact that it is taken from a non-diverse group of individuals is definitely not an equal representation of the vast majority of us. Additionally, it needs to be said that things have changed and bodies I am sure are way different than what they were almost 50 years ago.
Another thing that the test does not account for is body type. Our genetics play a huge role on how our body is shaped. Therefore, if someone is short and muscular (like your girl here!) then it does not account for the body build.
For example, an individual who is short and weighs more because of the muscle mass they have will put them in the obese category. How does this happen? Well muscle weighs more than fat and that can have a huge influence on the BMI value. This also can go for someone who is very tall and has ideal weight may be flagged for being underweight.
Better Ways for Measuring Health
If a health care professional does not take into account other factors in addition to the BMI value, then the patient can be missed, overlooked, or flagged for health concerns not pertaining to them or worse off missing out on health concerns that should be flagged for themselves.
It should be mentioned that there are ways a health care professional should look at health as well as you as a patient. Well, in this article... we are going to focus on YOU!
So here are some better ways to measure health:
Consider How You Feel - How does your body feel when you move and are going about through your day ? Do you feel crummy or do you feel pretty good?
Consider Your Overall Health - Do you have pre-existing conditions? Do you have diseases and disorders that run in the family? Have you already been screened and are considered pre- "insert disease/condition" ?
Do You Get Adequate Sleep? - This may seem random but your sleep is a huge contributor to your overall health. Are you having to drink several cups of coffee just to keep you awake through the day? If so, you're probably not getting enough Z's.
What Are Your Stress Levels Like? - Huge aspect of health is your stress levels. If you are going to be decreasing anything, decrease this!!!
Are you Getting Enough Movement Through the Day? - I mean you had to see that one coming right? Yes I am a huge advocate for movement and exercise, but seriously this one is key! It's recommended at least 30 minutes of movement a day! Are you hitting those marks?
Those are just a few of things we can measure our health by. If you aren't doing so hot in these categories, take it one step at a time and don't move onto the next one until you have mastered one aspect of your health.
You can totally do this! And don't forget BMI is just a number and should not determine your perception on your body and health.
Need more help? Feel free to check out other posts on wellness and overall health!