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Ways to #KeepMoving physically

Still Relying on BMI As A Health Measure? Here’s What You Need to Know

IDBI Federal Life Insurance Co Ltd.

Since years, medical professionals, nutritionists, and researchers have relied on body mass index (BMI) as an indicator of good health. BMI is easy to calculate—everyone can measure weight and height, or use an online calculator—and there are numerous resources discussing how maintaining a healthy BMI is key.
Then, why is BMI regarded as outdated?

Well, simply because BMI doesn’t tell you the real story. It does not accurately estimate excess body fat because it solely relies on body weight. So, a person of athletic built can be considered overweight although s/he has more muscle mass than fat. Furthermore, a person with a BMI within the normal range might be at risk for chronic diseases such as type-2 diabetes or heart disease.

Therefore, understanding your body composition is crucial.
Here are two other handy metrics that can help you accurately measure your healthy body weight:

  1. Muscle to Fat Ratio:

    The shape of your body is influenced mainly by the distribution of muscle and fat tissues. If you gain muscle, you gain weight. Your muscle mass is also denser than your fat mass. In general, a higher muscle-to-fat ratio can lead to obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and other cardiac diseases.

    How to measure the muscle-to-fat ratio?

    Measuring the muscle-to-fat ratio by yourself can be complicated, but you can visit a nutrition or fitness studio (or a gym) for this purpose. You need to undergo a comprehensive body composition analysis—this will determine your body fat percentage, water composition, and body mass, based on which your muscle or lean mass can be calculated. These measurements will help you better understand your health and fitness goals.

    Some conventional methods used to determine body composition are listed below:

    • Skinfold caliper– measure the thickness of skin folds in different areas of the body.
    • Hydrostatic weighing – measures the difference between your normal weight and weight under water
    • Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) scanning –determines your bone mineral density

    The optimal lean-to-fat ratio primarily depends on the person’s age, gender, and activity level. Experts advise looking at the general trend of this metric as the value can change based on several factors such as food and water intake, time of weighing-in, and physical activity undertaken on that day.

  2. Waist-to-Hip Ratio (WHR):
    The ratio of the measurement of the waist to that of the hips can give insights about how physically healthy you are. The waist size is known to be an indicator of visceral fat, the deep abdominal fat surrounding internal organs. As they say—your hips don’t lie!

    WHR can determine whether you are overweight or obese, helping you understand whether the excess weight is putting you at risk of heart disease, diabetes, or even premature death.

    How to measure your WHR?

    Calculating WHR is easy and inexpensive. If you struggle to take accurate measurements, ask someone else to assist you.

    • Stand up straight and breathe out.
    • Using a measuring tape, measure the circumference of your waist—just above the belly button.
    • Next, measure the circumference of your hips—around the widest part of your buttocks.
    • Divide the waist circumference by hips circumference to calculate your WHR.
    According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a healthy WHR for men is 0.9 or less, and that for women is 0.85 or less.

    Health risk Women Men
    Low 0.80 or lower 0.95 or lower
    Moderate 0.81–0.85 0.96–1.0
    High 0.86 or higher 1.0 or higher


    Source: healthline.com

    Note, however, that the WHR does not yield accurate results for those who are shorter than 5 feet and those with a BMI of 35 or higher.

    So, remember to think beyond BMI the next time you are struggling with weight issues.

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