How Can Knowing Your BMI Save Your Life?

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OK, you’ve vowed to lose weight. You’ve made promises to your doctor, your family, yourself.  That’s great. But how far should you go? Health experts use two forms of measurement to determine health risks associated with excess poundage.  One measurement is Body Mass Index or BMI. Keeping your BMI in a healthy range can reduce your chance of disease.

What Is Body Mass Index?

Your Body Mass Index (BMI) estimates body fat based on height and weight. “BMI can be misleading because sometimes you may weigh more because you’ve got more muscle, which is heavier than fat,” says Nancy Gilliam, LPN, CNC, Registered Health Coach II and certified chronic care professional at Memorial Hermann.

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The Numbers and Your Risk of Disease

If your BMI is greater than 25, you’re more at risk for heart disease, osteoarthritis, stroke, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, gall bladder disease and breathing problems –unless you are pregnant or particularly muscular. Learn more about calculating your BMI.

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Another Important Measurement to Watch: Your Waistline

If you don’t like doing all the math that figuring your BMI requires, health experts suggest you simply keep an eye on your waist measurement.  “As your waist measurement goes up, so does your risk of cardiovascular disease,” says Gilliam.  “Abdominal fat, especially visceral fat around internal organs, is a better indicator of heart disease than BMI (body mass index).”

To measure your waist, wrap a tape measure around the middle at the belly button. Pull  it snug, but not excessively tight. What does it read? A waist 35 inches or above in women or 40 inches or above in men is excessive and can put you at risk of disease.

Learn more about how to achieve a healthier you by visiting NewStart program.

Tashika Varma