BMI limitations: Age and sex, body composition, and health

Body mass index (BMI) is a measurement of weight compared to height, which is calculated as weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in meters. Even though BMI is considered an indicator of body fatness, it is more of an alternative measurement of body fat. It measures excess body weight rather than body fat. Although it is directly co-related to more direct measures of body fat.

Body mass index is a simple and inexpensive way to measure body fat. Unlike other methods, BMI gives results based only on height and weight. With the proper equipment, you can have BMI measured with fair accuracy. Researchers have also shown that BMI levels relate directly to fats in the body and probable health risks. BMI has some clinical limitations, and those should also be considered to get more accurate results. However, these limitations can be covered by doing extra assessments and BMI calculations like MRI scanning. There are various factors that influence the correlation between BMI and body fat like age, sex, muscle mass, and ethnicity. Here are certain factors that influence BMI measurements.

Age – BMI calculation for people who are 20 years of age and above does incorporate weight and height but does not consider age and sex. It is important to consider age as an older person may have more body fat compared to that of a young person but will give the same BMI measurement. Hence, BMI is inefficient in giving accurate results about a person being healthy or not without considering his/her age. On the other hand, the height and weight proportions keep changing rapidly in growing children.

Sex – BMI measurement chart is standardized for both genders. One must consider that women tend to show more body mass than men, but this does not make them unhealthy. It is a common difference observed throughout the masses. Also, pregnant and nursing women put on weight to make sure the baby remains healthy.

Body composition – BMI tells you about body fat but not the details about how much fat is accumulated in which body part. This can be misleading as studies have proven that body mass around certain areas like waist and abdominal organs indicate higher risks to the health of an individual. Whereas fats accumulated equally overall can be less harmful.

Health – As per the BMI standardized categories, the higher the BMI, the higher the chance of being unhealthy. There are certain exceptions to this as a muscular person or an athlete may show a high BMI measurement but is healthier than the person showing lower BMI.

Being obese, overweight, or underweight can lead to health issues. Thus, it is important to know your health status. But remember, do not rely on Body Mass Index solely as it can be misleading.