People with different lifestyles, body fat percentages, and health habits may show the exact same body mass index (BMI) rating. This perplexing phenomena is one of the main reasons why BMI readings to measure obesity are becoming increasingly frowned upon by nutritionists and healthcare professionals alike. The outdated measuring tool has several significant drawbacks, which can make its readings incorrect in certain cases.
If you’re interested in pursuing a career in nutrition, read on to find out why BMI findings may be inaccurate.
Pros with a Diploma in Nutrition Might Know the Flaw Is in the Calculation
The body mass index method of measuring obesity was invented in 1830 by Lambert Adolphe Jacques Quetelet, a Belgian mathematician and statistician.
BMI is calculated by dividing a person’s weight (in kilograms) by their height squared (in centimetres). The number that results from this calculation lands the person somewhere on a scale between underweight and morbidly obese, with a “normal weight” ranging between 18.5 to 24.9.
The system works best when the person being measured is close to the average adult height. The taller or shorter a subject is, the more likely their results will be skewed by the calculation. The result is that a taller person’s BMI could indicate they are more obese than they actually are, while a shorter person might believe that they are slimmer than might be healthy.
Pros with a Diploma in Nutrition Know BMI Can’t Distinguish Between Muscle and Fat
As students in a nutrition diploma program may know, muscle and fat have very different effects on the body. Excess fat can lead to an array of health issues like cancer and heart disease, especially when the fat collects around the organs in the torso. However, muscle is healthy for the body. Muscle is much more dense than fat, so it weighs more per square inch. Therefore, someone who is slimmer and more muscular may weigh more than someone who is obese. This will give them a higher BMI rating despite the fact they are much healthier.
The problem with the BMI calculation is that it does not distinguish body compositions and sources of weight. This means it is unable to tell whether the weight is coming from fat or muscle. A man who weighs 200 pounds with low body fat is likely to be much healthier than a man of the same height and weight with a high body fat percentage. This key issue demonstrates how BMI is not a true indicator of a person’s health.
Graduates of Nutrition Diploma Programs May Know There Are Better Health Indicators
Professionals speculate that BMI will soon become irrelevant when determining obesity and health. Fortunately, there are several other methods that graduates from nutrition and health programs can recommend to their clients.
One great alternative to the BMI is calculating body fat percentage. A body fat percentage test can be performed easily using a scale with the ability to calculate body fat. A client would stand on the scale and it would detect what percentage of their body’s makeup is fat. The number would then be weighed against their age and gender, which eventually reveals which rating on the scale they receive.
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