Many people today know their cholesterol level and understand the importance of lowering it in controlling heart disease. However, fewer people know about BMI and how it relates not just to heart health, but health overall. So, what is BMI and why is it important?
What is BMI?
A measure of health many primary care providers may use when conducting an annual physical is BMI. BMI simply means Body-Mass-Index. It is an important tool to gauge overall health.
The Body Mass Index is a measure of the concentration of fat to lean tissue in people. The higher the number, the more the person is comprised of fat tissue. Since excess fat is a sign of poor health, it is an important tool. In fact, the BMI is such a reliable tool for gauging health that insurance company actuaries use it daily.
An insurance company actuary is a person who assesses risk and places a numerical value to the risk. Right or wrong, a higher BMI will result in higher insurance premiums. Yet, money aside, what does a high BMI mean for general overall health?
BMI and Health Statistics
The National Institute of Health (NIH) states that a healthy BMI is generally less than 25 (which is 25%). In other words, people who are healthy should have less than 24% of their bodily tissue composed of fat. Persons with a BMI of 30 or up are called obese.
Well-established is that the higher the BMI, the greater the risk of several deadly conditions. These include:
- high blood pressure
- type II diabetes
- heart disease
- sleep apnea
- even certain cancers (like colon, breast, gallbladder, and endometrial)
In fact, according to the NIH, two out of 3 adults in America are overweight based on their BMI. Given these figures, there is little surprise that the leading cause of death is heart disease, diabetes is a rapidly growing concern, and colon cancer is one most common forms.
Know Your BMI
Naturally, since a high body mass index is so serious, many people will want to know theirs. There are two ways to check your BMI. One way is to use the CDC’s Adult BMI Calculator. It is fairly accurate, though simple. It only asks for your height and weight. However, it does not calculate for lifestyle and age, two factors that can also affect your BMI. So, it is not a perfect measure, but it is close.
The best way to check BMI is to have your Kymera Primary Care Provider do so. This will allow for taking actual measurements, accounting for whether the mass is fat or extra muscle, and your age. The body mass index is adjusted for age such that a general tool is insufficient in some cases.
If you are concerned about your BMI, make an appointment today with Kymera Independent Physicians. We not only properly assess your BMI, but can help you take steps to get your weight under control if needed. Please request an appointment now.