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What is BMI and Why You Should Understand It

8/26 15:34:17

     What is BMI? This is a question every nutritionist and health expert has had to grapple with. Proposed by the Belgian, Adolphe Quetelet around 1840 BMI is the body mass of a person divided by the square of his or her height. It does not get simpler than that.

Body mass index can be presented in a number of appealing ways. It can be presented on charts with height plotted against mass. Such charts would involve numerous curves for specific masses and varying heights. A differently colored line cutting through all these curves could represent the optimal mass at a given height. The global standard of computing BMI is by using the SI units i. E kilograms for mass and meters for height.

The Body Mass Index has been largely applicable in the medical field. Health experts use BMI to approximately determine the amount of fat in an individual. Other than this, it is also used in objectively finding out whether a person is underweight, of ideal weight, overweight or obese. While a rating of 20 to 25 is considered good someone with a score under 20 is considered underweight. A person with a rating above 25 is considered overweight and if it goes beyond 30 the person is obese.

BMI Prime is the ratio of the actual BMI of an individual to the standard amount pegged at 25. In this case the ideal BMI Prime lies between 0.74 and 0.79. An individual with levels below 0.74 is underweight. With a score above 1.00 an individual is overweight but if it exceeds 1.20 the individual is obese.

In recent times, while assessing the health status of a prospective employee, one of the things considered is the Body Mass Index. Different employers have their own benchmarks. Most often these are related to the nature of the job. Qualified medical experts usually fill the relevant medical forms clearly indicating the BMI of the individual.

Insurance agencies also take this figure into account when computing insurance premiums. Their argument is that by knowing the Body Mass Index of a person, risk experts can roughly determine the exposure levels of an individual to certain diseases. It should however be noted that such analyses are never accurate as probabilities are normally attached to their occurrence.

The Body Mass Index has also assisted global aid agencies in determining areas that need aid. Since population-wide calculations give an overall picture high risk areas can be easily determined. Certain levels are laid down as indicators of malnutrition.

It should however be noted that different standards have been developed according to regions. A case in point is in most parts of Asia where 23 is optimal for an adult. There are also age specific benchmarks. Children have different benchmarks in comparison to adults. Gender is also considered in setting scales. Research shows that females generally have higher BMIs than males.

Since its creation in the 1840s, BMI will continue being a useful tool. It has gone through a number of modifications but the basic principles remain the same. Perhaps in future it might be used in a wider number of areas.

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