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Should this be the end of BMI?

Professional Development

Just over 63 per cent of Australians adults are overweight, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. That works out to 11.2 million people, and an increase of 56 per cent over the last decade. We get these statistics from a the universal weight measurement scale known as the body mass index (BMI).

However, these numbers are just that – numbers. It can be argued that they are a gross misrepresentation of the individuals themselves. While there is work to be done to help people better manage their weight and improve their fitness routine we have first need to reexamine BMI.

BMI as of today

For years, BMI has been the standard of measuring what should be a person’s healthy weight average. Essentially, the formula measures your waist circumference with your height (BMI=Weight (kg)/Height(m)2). However, it was developed back in the early 1800s by a Belgian statistician, making it an archaic way to standardise weight measurement. As it turns out, there’s a lot more to measuring health than just height and weight.

Problems with measuring BMI

Health experts have been starting to poke holes in the old way of measurement and its serious limitations. Its biggest issue is that BMI can’t actually accurately differentiate between the proportion of weight that comes from fat or muscle which varies from race, age and gender, as well as the type of activities the individual partakes in.

These factors have a big role in classifying the real health of the individual. In fact, people who are classified as ‘overweight’ can also be considered cardiometabolically healthy. Let’s take a look at healthy ways to measure BMI.

Healthier alternatives to measuring weight

While there are several ways to get a better understanding of someone’s health, we find these are some of the more beneficial methods. To note, a combination of these BMI alternatives can give you a more complete understanding of weight management.

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Waist to hip ratio

This technique can more accurately calculate the excess weight you’re carrying and give insight into potential health concerns, such as high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. It’s calculated using a tape measure to read waistline and the widest part of the hip, and dividing these two together. This is how you should judge the results, according to the German Society for Sports Medicine and Prevention:

Men

  • <.90 = normal weight
  • .90 to .99 = overweight
  • 1.0+ = obesity

Women

  • <.80 = normal weight
  • .80 to .84 = overweight
  • .85+ = obesity

Waist circumference measurement

The next most effective way to measure health. This simply measures the natural waist, as this area of the body is the best indicator of how much excess fat you carry, as well as your risk for medical conditions. At risk waist sizes are as follows: Women 88.9 centimetres, men 101.6 cm.

For more information on how you can better help your clients measure their health, contact our team to sign up to get your Certificate IV in Weight Management and Certificate III and IV in Fitness.

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