What is BMI & What It Means for Your Health

Most folks head for the bathroom scale when they wonder whether all those midnight snacks are pushing them into the next pants size. On the other side, there are those who wince when they step on the scale and see they’ve lost rather than gained those few pounds they were hoping to add.

Pounds do matter, but your body mass index (BMI) is a better indicator of where you fall in the weight category.

BMI versus your bathroom scale

Your BMI compares how those numbers on the scale balance with your height and provides a more accurate picture of whether your weight is over, under or right at what it should be. It’s easy to calculate your BMI. Just divide your weight in kilograms by your height in meters squared. A calculator may help, or we can do that for you during a fitness evaluation here at Barrington Orthopedic Specialists.

If your BMI is:

  • 18.4 or less, you’re considered underweight
  • 18.5-24.9, you’re normal weight for your height
  • 25.0-29.9, you’re overweight

And we sort obesity into three classes. When your BMI is:

  • 30.0-34.9, it indicates Class I obesity
  • 35.0-39.9, you’re in the Class II range
  • 40.0 or higher, it indicates extreme or Class III obesity

So, it seems simple. Too low and you’re underweight. Too high and you’re overweight. Just right and you’re perfect. Well, not exactly.

BMI versus body composition

Your BMI doesn’t measure body fat, which is another important factor in determining an overall healthy weight for you. Your body composition is determined by measuring your ratio of muscle to fat.

Forget that old myth that muscle weighs more than fat. A pound is a pound, whether you’re weighing muscle, fat, or marshmallows. But because muscle is denser than fat and takes up less space, very muscular individuals who appear fit may have a BMI that lifts them into obesity ranges.

Conversely, people carrying around more fluffy fat than muscle may appear obese but can land just under the obesity range on the BMI scale. Only a medical professional can determine if your BMI is a problem. That’s why we include it as part of our wellness program and your fitness assessment here at Barrington Orthopedic Specialists.

BMI and your overall health

Despite its shortcomings, your BMI is an important and fairly accurate guide when it comes to determining your risk for developing serious medical conditions related to excess weight, including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and painful joint disorders.

And if you’re significantly underweight with poor nutrition, your health may suffer from vitamin and mineral deficiencies, which can lead to anemia, osteoporosis, digestive disorders, and other concerning issues.

BMI and your joint health

Healthy joints are built tough but have their limits. Primary weight-bearing joints include your hips, knees, and ankles, as well as those in your spine and feet. Excess weight can stress your weight-bearing joints beyond their capacity to function normally.

Your knees, for instance, suffer significantly when you’re overweight. Every pound of weight adds 4 pounds of pressure to your knee joints every time you use them, even for short walks. Losing just 10 pounds can decrease the pressure on your knees by 40 pounds.

Inflammation within your joints also plays a key role in arthritis and the pain it brings. Being overweight can increase the overall inflammation in your body, including that in your joints, which may worsen your joint symptoms. Recent research is also showing that inflammation related to obesity may contribute to developing arthritis in the first place.

At Barrington Orthopedic Specialists, we focus heavily on your musculoskeletal wellness, but we’re also passionate about your overall health. We can help reset your BMI. Schedule your fitness assessment today as part of our Wellness Program Services at Barrington Orthopedic Specialists Rehabilitation Department. Call 847-885-0078 to register.