Throughout our lives, most of us were under the assumption that we can determine the healthiest weight range for ourselves by merely calculating our body mass index or BMI. This measurement, a gold standard in medicine since the 1990s after its initial invention in the mid-1800s and growing popularity thereafter, has been used in the case of countless men and women, in an attempt to screen individuals for being overweight, obese, or underweight.
In recent years, a dramatic shift is occurring, with more and more medical professionals ceasing to subscribe to the prevalent idea that measuring BMI is an accurate way to judge one's ideal body weight. Why did this sudden shift take place and where are we heading instead? Read on to find out all about the downfall of BMI in this article.
What IS BMI Exactly?
MedicineNet defines BMI, or body mass index, as the individual's weight in kilograms divided by their height in meters, creating a numerical value that doctors have been using for over a century to classify a person as underweight (BMI 18.5 and under), normal weight (BMI 20-25), overweight (BMI 25-30), or obese (BMI 30 and above).
Even though the use of BMI was standard practice until recently, medical professionals have always recognized its shortcomings. Individuals with a heavier bone structure or athletes who have developed a large muscle mass thanks to bodybuilding have never quite fit the above, traditionally existing categories.
As Medical Daily has reported, doctors are abandoning traditional BMI measurements in their daily practice, becoming aware of the flaws of the system which mislabels muscular, heavier-framed individuals as obese, while giving the green light of health to those who are considered ideal weight, who are, in a practical sense, often anything, but. As a result, professionals and clients have been seeking for a more accurate system to determine one's ideal weight, instead of using the BMI.
What Are Better Ways Than BMI to Determine Healthy Body Weight?
Fortunately, instead of using the outdated method of looking at an individual's BMI that mistakenly categorized many as overweight or obese while not properly acknowledging the health risks seemingly skinnier people may too have, we now have far better, more modern methods to utilize. With the rapidly advancing technology, today it is possible to measure a person's body composition more accurately than ever before.
Body composition is indeed the key term here, referring to the percentages of bones, muscles, and fat that one actually has. Much like traditional scales, the measurement of BMI also doesn't take these variables into account, turning a blind eye to one's more massive muscle mass or robust body type, making it virtually impossible to judge just how much unhealthy fat a person carries.
Today we finally understand that the percentage of body fat has much more to do with one's well-being, vitality, and longevity, than weight alone. As a result, medicine now increasingly focuses on finding accurate ways to measure body fat percentage, which is often surprisingly lower in the case of densely muscular individuals, while not uncommon to hide away even on a slimmer physique.
Instead of the BMI, doctors recommend using the following methods to gain a deeper understanding of one's body composition:
An inexpensive and quick-to-use device designed to measure the thickness of fat layers on a person.
Another cheap and effective method which promotes the use of waist circumference, which should be less than half of your height in inches, if you are at a healthy weight.
One of the most accurate, albeit somewhat difficult method to use to calculate the person's density, by comparing their weight as is, to the weight when submerged in water, keeping the water's density in mind, when creating the final formula.
Also known as bod-pod, the individual is placed in a machine, which calculates how much air was displaced by the patient's body. Much like the previous option, it is not an easily accessible method for many.
Dual Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry
A procedure using X-rays to measure the individual's bone density, lean muscle mass, and body fat percentage.
Final Thoughts about BMI
As you see, weight alone paints an inaccurate picture of one's health. Consequently, BMI is no longer considered an accurate way to determine whether you are in great shape. Fortunately, there are many, far more precise methods to take advantage of, to obtain a clear understanding of your body.