Health

Will County Health Department: BMI is important

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Will County Health Department Community Health Center Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jennifer Byrd said in a news release, “BMI is an indicator of an individual’s potential risk to develop crippling medical conditions associated with obesity.”

JOLIET – Quite often the goal is to lose weight or exercise more. But a more complete story of your health just might be told by your BMI, or body mass index.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that “BMI does not measure body fat directly, but research has shown that BMI is moderately correlated with more direct measures of body fat. These measures are obtained from skinfold thickness measurements, densitometry (which is underwater weighing), and other methods.”

Will County Health Department Community Health Center Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jennifer Byrd said in a news release, “BMI is an indicator of an individual’s potential risk to develop crippling medical conditions associated with obesity.”

Diabetes, Byrd said, is a good example, because “in obese patients their insulin ‘hides’ in adipose tissue (where fat is stored), and thus the insulin is not out in the bloodstream doing its job to lower blood sugar.”

Byrd also mentioned gallbladder disease. Additional examples mentioned were fatty liver disease, sleep apnea, and cancers. Byrd painted a very distinct picture of how a high BMI can set cancer in motion.

Fortunately, you can calculate this measurement of your weight in relation to your height on your own. It’s a matter of dividing your weight (in kilograms or pounds) by your height squared (either in the amount of meters tall, such as 1.65, or the amount of inches tall, such at 65).

For information on these BMI equations, visit www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/assessing/bmi/adult_bmi/index.html. At that address will be the BMI table, which will give you what range you are in. For example, a Body Mass Index of 18.5 is considered underweight, while one of 25.0 or above is considered overweight. Anything from 18.5 to 24.9 is considered normal or healthy.

The CDC describes BMI as a “screening tool,” but not necessarily a “diagnostic of health of an individual. Further tests might involve skinfold thickness, evaluations of diet, physical activity, and family history.”

Byrd concluded that a BMI that comes in as overweight is alarming for adults as well as children.

For information on BMI specifically in children and teenagers, go to www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/assessing/bmi/childrens_bmi/about_childrens_bmi.html