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What Is BMI & What Can (and Can’t) It Tell Us

Overweight man drinking from a plastic water bottle

You may remember discussing BMI years ago in high school during physical education class or perhaps the topic has come up during a routine physical exam with your primary doctor. We’ve all heard the acronym, yet many Americans are still unaware about the type of role BMI plays in their health and wellness. 

What Is BMI? 

BMI stands for Body Mass Index. It’s a formula that uses your height and weight to cross-check against a nationally mandated chart to determine which of the four weight categories you fall under: 

  1. Underweight 

  2. Healthy weight 

  3. Overweight 

  4. Obese 

What Does BMI Measure? 

As noted above, BMI classifies people into different weight categories, so it’s not uncommon for people to assume BMI measures health. But that’s simply not the truth: BMI only measures a specific height-to-weight ratio. It’s a rudimentary mathematical formula used as a screening tool that is meant to determine whether you have high levels of body fat (which is always a high-risk factor for other serious medical conditions). 

What BMI Gets Wrong 

BMI is meant to highlight a patient’s excess body fat, but it doesn’t always perform this observation well. While weight does include fat, it also includes bones, muscle, fluids, organs, and everything else in the body, and weight is affected by numerous factors that BMI blatantly ignores, including: gender, muscle mass, activity level, body type, age, and ethnicity.  

Scientists have spoken out against using BMI in favor of more accurate assessments, such as waist size or waist-to-height ratio. This reflects the “body type” factor— as the location of body fat can affect health in different ways, and more weight around your midsection can mean you’re at higher risk regardless of your BMI.  

Risks of High BMI  

According to the CDC, people who are obese are at increased risk for type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and some cancers, in addition to sleep apnea or mental health conditions, such as depression or anxiety. It may also put you at greater risk for severe complications from COVID-19

 However, studies suggest that these risks may be lower for people with high BMIs but who have smaller midsections. In comparison, risks can actually be even higher in people with BMIs within the “healthy” range who have excess fat around their abdomen area.   

So, here comes the age-old question: Does BMI measure how healthy you are? The answer: no. It’s just one of many assessments that should be performed to provide a comprehensive evaluation of your health and wellness. 

Can Testosterone Help with Weight Loss? 

Regardless of your BMI number, if you’re feeling tired, experiencing a decrease in libido, and having difficulty losing weight, you may want to check your testosterone levels.  

Low testosterone in men can increase body fat around the midsection, and increased body fat can lower testosterone, thus creating a vicious cycle. This doesn’t mean that every overweight man will experience low testosterone or that every man with low testosterone is overweight. However, if you do have low testosterone, addressing the underlying issue may help you avoid symptoms related to this condition, including weight gain.  

Interested in Checking Your Testosterone Levels? 

Schedule a consultation with EveresT Men’s Health today! We offer comprehensive medical evaluations and weight loss programs to help you reach your goals in 2021.