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Body Mass Index

Weight management - Frequent self-weighing seems to be a good predictor of moderate weight loss, less weight regain, or the avoidance of initial weight gain in adults. Body composition test provides complete picture of your body’s condition than just weight. Extensive insight in body and visceral fat, skeletal muscle level, BMI and resting metabolism. Testing regularly, it calculates and records how your body is changing, ensuring you don’t lose body muscle when you’re trying to lose body fat.

Overweight and obesity are defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that may impair health. Body mass index (BMI) is a simple index of weight-for-height that is commonly used to classify overweight and obesity in adults. Raised BMI is a major risk factor for non-communicable diseases such as:

  • Cardiovascular diseases (mainly heart disease and stroke), which were the leading cause of death in 2012.
  • Diabetes.
  • Musculoskeletal disorders (especially osteoarthritis - a highly disabling degenerative disease of the joints).
  • Some cancers (endometrial, breast, and colon).

The risk for these non-communicable diseases increases, with an increase in BMI.

A quick introduction to the terminology:

BMI (Body Mass Index)

Body mass index (BMI) is a simple index of weight-for-height that is commonly used to classify overweight and obesity in adults. It is defined as a person's weight in kilograms divided by the square of his height in meters (kg/m2).

The WHO definition is:

  • A BMI greater than or equal to 25 is overweight
  • A BMI greater than or equal to 30 is obesity.

BMI should be considered a rough guide because it may not correspond to the same degree of fatness in different individuals.

Body Fat

Body fat percentage refers to the amount of body fat mass in regards to the total body weight expressed as a percentage.
Body fat percentage (%) = {Body fat mass (kg) / Body weight (kg)} × 100. Depending on where fat is distributed in the body, it is classified as visceral fat or subcutaneous fat.

Visceral fat = fat surrounding internal organs

Too much visceral fat is thought to be closely linked to increased levels of fat in the bloodstream, which can lead to common diseases such as hyperlipidaemia and diabetes, which impairs the ability of insulin to transfer energy from the bloodstream and using it in cells. In order to prevent or improve conditions of common diseases, it is important to try and reduce visceral fat levels to an acceptable level. People with high visceral fat levels tend to have large stomachs. However, this is not always the case and high visceral fat levels can lead to metabolically obese. Metabolically obese (visceral obesity with normal weight) represents fat levels that are higher than average, even if a person’s weight is at or below the standard for their height

Subcutaneous fat = fat below the skin

Subcutaneous fat not only accumulates around the stomach but also around the upper arms, hips and thighs, and can cause a distortion of the body's proportions. Although not directly linked to increased risk of disease, it is thought to increase pressure on the heart and other complications. Subcutaneous fat is not displayed in this unit, but is included in the body fat percentage.

Skeletal Muscle

Muscle is divided into two types, muscle in internal organs, such as the heart, and skeletal muscle attached to bones that is used to move the body. Skeletal muscle can be increased through exercise and other activity. Increasing the ratio of skeletal muscle means that body can burn energy more easily, which means that it is less likely to turn to fat, and makes it easier to lead an energetic lifestyle.

Resting Metabolism

Regardless of your activity level, a minimum level of caloric intake is required to sustain the body’s everyday functions. Known as the resting metabolism, this indicates how many calories you need to ingest in order to provide enough energy for your body to function.

Fast facts on BMI

Here are some key points about BMI. More detail and supporting information is in the main article.

  • Body mass index (BMI) is a measure of relative size based on the mass and height of an individual.
  • The Quetelet Index was devised by Adolphe Quetelet, a Belgian mathematician, astronomer and statistician, in 1832. It was later termed "body mass index" in 1972 by Ancel Keys.
  • BMI is a simple, inexpensive and noninvasive surrogate measure of body fat.
  • Factors such as age, sex, ethnicity and muscle mass are not accounted for in BMI.
  • For adults 20 years and older, BMI is interpreted by using standard weight status categories that are the same for all ages, and for both men and women.
  • For children and adolescents between 2-20 years old, BMI is interpreted relative to a child's age and sex.
  • BMI is a reasonable indicator of body fat for both adults and children.
  • Because BMI does not measure body fat directly, it should not be used as a diagnostic tool.
  • BMI should be used as a measure to track weight status in populations and as a screening tool to identify potential weight problems in individuals.
  • Other measures of body fat, such as skinfold thicknesses, bioelectrical impedance, underwater weighing and dual energy X-ray absorption, maybe more accurate than BMI.

The health risks associated with an increasing BMI are continuous, and the interpretation of BMI grading in relation to risk may differ for different populations

There are two ways to check your BMI:

  • Use our BMI calculators
  • Use the BMI chart. First, find your height in the left-hand column. Then, follow it over until you find your weight along the top bar. The number in the center box between the two is your BMI.

Benefits of maintaining a healthy weight

The benefits of maintaining a healthy weight include

  • Fewer joint and muscle pains
  • Increased energy and ability to join in more activities
  • Improved regulation of bodily fluids and blood pressure
  • Reduced burden on the heart and circulatory system
  • Improved sleep patterns
  • Reductions in blood triglycerides, blood glucose, and risk of developing type 2 diabetes
  • Reduced risk for heart disease and certain cancers.

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