You may know that your body stores energy as fat; however, what you may not be familiar with is that if it stores too much or too little, you may be at risk for illnesses and diseases. Still, merely stepping on a scale won’t tell you whether you are at a healthy weight. This is why calculating the body mass index (BMI) is paramount.
Doctors and other healthcare providers can use this metric to determine your weight category — that is, body fat in relation to your weight and height. A healthy BMI range for men and women is different, and knowing yours can prevent or reduce specific weight-related health problems, such as high blood pressure or type 2 diabetes. There are many ways to measure your body fat, but most healthcare workers and fitness trainers use a BMI scale.
Recommended Healthy BMI Range For Men and Women
Doctors and trainers often use the BMI scale to categorize a person’s body weight into one of the following groups:
- Underweight (less than 18.5 BMI)
- Normal/healthy weight (18.5–24.9 BMI)
- Overweight (25–29.9 BMI)
- Obese (more than 30)
A recent study has shown that a BMI of 22 is the healthiest, regardless of gender.
The BMI is usually calculated using this formula:
BMI = kg / m²
However, scientists who participated in the said study suggested using the following equation to determine your ideal BMI in pounds:
5 x BMI + (BMI / 5) x (height in inches - 60)
Here's how to determine your BMI in kilograms:
2.2 x BMI + (BMI x 3.5) x (height in meters - 1.5)
Based on these formulas, a woman who is 5 feet 5 inches (165 cm) tall should weigh 127 lb (57.6 kg) if she is aiming for a healthy BMI for women (22 BMI). On the flip side, to achieve a healthy BMI for men, a man who is 5 feet 5 inches tall would need to weigh 136 lb (61.6 kg).
Still, it’s worth noting that assessing your health using BMI calculations alone comes with certain limitations. For instance, if you are an athlete with a muscular build, you should keep in mind that muscles weigh more than fat. As a result, your BMI may be in a higher range despite your lean physique. On the other hand, if your muscle mass is down, the BMI calculations may underestimate your body fat. The reason for this is that this tool or metric does not measure fat specifically — instead, it merely estimates whether there is excessive or insufficient body fat.
Risks of High BMI
It is a well-known fact that being overweight increases the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure; however, the dangers extend much further. In 2014, researchers studied more than 12,000 Americans to determine a possible link between diabetes and being overweight. They found that people whose BMI was in the 25–29.9 range were 50% more likely to develop diabetes than those with a BMI of 18.5–24.9.
Overweight and inactive individuals with a BMI over 25 kg/m² may suffer from the following health issues:
- Type 2 diabetes
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Certain types of cancer (colon and breast cancer)
- Gallbladder diseases
- Depression and other mental health disorders
- Sleep apnea
Even if you are not affected by any of these health conditions, a BMI of 25 and above puts you at risk of developing obesity-related health issues down the line. Doctors use these ranges to measure risk levels:
- Overweight (not obese) — BMI is between 25 and 29.9
- Class 1 obesity (low-risk) — BMI is between 30 and 34.9
- Class 2 obesity (moderate-risk) — BMI is between 35 and 39.9
- Class 3 obesity (high-risk) — BMI is equal to or higher than 40
In addition to calculating your BMI, you should measure your waist circumference in order to identify potential health risks associated with obesity. For instance, you are more likely to develop diabetes and heart disease if most of your fat is located around your waist rather than your hips.
In order to combat obesity and lower your BMI, you can try eating healthy food with fewer calories, being physically active, and changing your overall routine. If you have trouble losing or maintaining weight, your healthcare provider may suggest other approaches, such as weight-loss devices, medicines, or even bariatric surgery.
Risks of Low BMI
The medical field tends to focus on the health effects of obesity, but what about being underweight? Low weight may prevent your body from getting the nutrients needed to maintain a healthy bone, skin, and hair structure. Individuals with a BMI lower than 18 kg/m² are usually malnourished and may develop:
- Respiratory diseases
- Digestive diseases
- Compromised immune functions
- Fertility issues
- Vitamin deficiencies or anemia
A person may be underweight for many reasons. Some include family history, frequent physical activity, a high metabolism, mental illness, physical illness, or a chronic disease. People should contact their doctor if they experience sudden weight loss and fatigue or if they struggle with an eating disorder.
A dietician can also help you minimize the negative effects of being underweight and achieve a normal BMI. They will probably advise you to alter your lifestyle and start eating more nutritious food. In addition, you may be encouraged to eat smaller, more frequent meals and add a few snacks in between. The meals must consist of whole grains, nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and dairy.
Additionally, you should start working out. Muscle growth will stimulate your appetite, causing you to gain weight.
Despite its limitations, BMI is still a good indicator of your overall health. If you’re trying to move down on this scale, the solution is simple — eat less and exercise more. On the other hand, if you want to gain weight, don’t forget to fuel yourself with more nutritious food and work out regularly. Regardless of what you are trying to achieve, the Eros Smart Body Fat Scale can be of great assistance. This handy gadget is also a BMI scale that will help you track your fitness journey and measure 12 more key body metrics.
Additionally, if you believe you need to lose or gain some weight or if you are afraid you might be in danger of developing the conditions mentioned above, you should consult your doctor. The great news is that you can significantly lower your risk by losing or gaining just a little bit of weight (5%–10%).READ NEXT: WHAT ARE SOME STRATEGIES TO MAINTAIN A HEALTHY BODY WATER PERCENTAGE?