What your Body Mass Index (BMI) tells you – and doesn’t


You’ve been working out for a while now and you keep hearing people talk about this thing called BMI. Sure, we all know it stands for Body Mass Index, but what is it useful for? No need to just nod and pretend next time someone brings it up – here are some things you should know about it! #stayinformed


It’s Not All About You

BMI wasn’t originally meant to be for individual use! The point of it was to provide a snapshot, an overview of a population’s general health. Quetelet has even stated that it is not for assessing the health of individuals but that matter was taken way out of his hands. Till today, BMI continues to be widely used to measure a person’s overall health. 


Easy as 1, 2, 3

There are several ways to calculate your BMI. The basic formula is very simple: Divide your weight (in kilogrammes) by your height (in metres squared), i.e. BMI = weight (kg) / height (m2)

If you prefer to use the Imperial system, then BMI = (weight (lbs) / height (in2)) x 703

Of course, in this day and age, everything’s available at the click of a mouse and that includes online BMI calculators such as this.


More Than Meets The … MASS?

Your BMI may not mean what you think it does. Using any of the calculations above, you will arrive at a number, which is your BMI. You are considered underweight if your BMI is below 18.5, normal weight if it’s between 18.5-24.9, overweight if it’s between 25-29.9, and obese if it’s 30 or more. Here’s the thing though, having a higher BMI doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re less healthy than someone with a “normal” BMI. If you have more lean muscle mass, you will have a higher BMI simply because muscle weighs more than fat. 


Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That

Critics pan it for being too simplistic. What BMI basically shows is the ratio between your height and weight. In recent times, there has been increasing criticism over BMI and its accuracy. One of the main reasons is that BMI doesn’t take any other factors that affect your overall health into consideration, such as age, sex, genetics, body fat, muscle mass, and bone density. Take it for what it is – a snapshot of one’s general health. Remember that BMI is just one factor, it does not tell the whole story.