What is BMI and does it matter?

Gianna Wurzl

One of the first steps to realizing if you are leading a healthy lifestyle or not is determining if you are overweight. Calculating your Body Mass Index or BMI can be an excellent first step.  But remember, like calory-counting, BMI is just a number and you need to consider all the other factors in your own personal situation.

Here is how the BMI ranges are categorized:

  • Underweight is a BMI less than 18.5
  • Normal weight is a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9
  • Overweight is a BMI of 25 to 29.9
  • Obesity is a BMI of 30 or greater

You can calculate your BMI by dividing your weight in pounds by your height in inches squared, and then multiplying that number by 703. You can use this equation to get your number: weight (lb) / [height (in) x height (in)] x 703, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (1).  But let us do the hard work for you by taking our FREE Health Assessment today to find yours now.

Technically, your BMI is used “as a good — though rough — indicator of how much fat mass you’re likely to have,” says Patrick M. O’Neil, PhD, the director of the weight management center at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and a professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences.

If you are trying to lose weight or just maintain a healthy weight, you should understand the connection between the energy your body takes in and the energy your body uses. Energy is taken in through food you eat and beverages you drink. Energy is used by activities performed. To lose weight you have to use more calories than you take in. To maintain, you have to match the calories you take in with those that you use. Eating a healthy diet and being physically active can help you reach either goal.

The number of calories you need each day depends on your age, activity level and whether you are trying to lose, gain or maintain your weight. Your diet should include the most nutritious foods including fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fat free or low fat milk and dairy products. Foods should be rich in vitamins, minerals, fibre and other nutrients.

You also must be physically active. Regular physical activity is important to your overall health and fitness. It can help you control your body weight. Aim to be physically active at a moderate intensity for at least 30 minutes a day. Increase the intensity or amount of time you exercise to have greater health benefits. Children and teenagers should be physically active for at least 60 minutes every day.

Recent studies in nutrition science have shown that diet plays a key role in ageing gracefully.  Whether you are looking at the bioactive compounds found in fruits and vegetables that promote healthy aging, flavonoids that reduce risks for oxidative stress or healthy fats that reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, a healthy diet can have miraculous effects on how well you age and whether you will suffer from and/or die prematurely from chronic disease.