What does your BMI say about you?

16 August 2020

It may have been years since you've had your BMI, or Body Mass Index, calculated. It has been a good 10 years for me since my last calculation. For those that may not have heard of BMI or have forgotten what it is, let's start with a quick refresher.

Body Mass Index, commonly referred to as BMI, is a simple way of telling if a person is underweight, normal weight or overweight. This is based on a person's height and weight. The three weight categories is a quick way of telling if the person is more prone to health issues and diseases (i.e. when the reading suggest the person is overweight or obese).

The formula for calculating BMI is: Weight (in kilograms) / Height2 (in metres). Or simply, you can go over to the Heart Foundation's calculator and pop in your weight and height and it'll give you your BMI reading in seconds.

Why does this reading matter

BMI is a quick and easy way to tell if a person is overweight or obese. This is important as obesity is one of the key causes of poor health and increases your risk of developing long term health conditions like heart attack and diabetes.

A healthy or normal weight reading for BMI is between 18 and 25. Under 18 and you're likely to be underweight. Over 25 and you're likely to be overweight. A reading of over 30 suggest you're in the obese category.

Figure NZ's 2019 data show that in New Zealand, Asians have roughly an average BMI of 25, Europeans 27, Maoris 30 and Pacific Islanders 33. 

Does BMI work for everyone

The BMI calculation works for most, however, for pregnant women, children under the age of 18 (still growing), people with more muscle mass (muscle weighs more than fat), and ethnic groups with smaller body frames, it may not work so well. If you are concerned with your reading, read more about BMI over at Heart Foundation's website or Ministry of Health's website. Alternatively, talk to your GP or healthcare professional.

Are there other measures to consider

Another commonly used measure is the Waist Circumference. There's growing evidence that this measure along with BMI is a more accurate way of determining if your weight is a worry. Here's a guide from Nutrition Foundation for you to measure yourself against. 

Average Risk:

Men <94cm

Women <80cm

Increased Risk:

Men 94-102cm

Women 80-88cm

Substantially Increased Risk:

Men >102cm

Women >88cm

What should I do if my BMI is putting me in the overweight or obese group

Keeping your weight within the normal BMI group takes effort. Eating well and exercising regularly will all help towards achieving a healthier weight for you. Sleep is also an important factor that can affect our mood, eating habits and therefore weight. Make sure you're getting enough rest at night and try to get to bed early.

Consider reviewing your daily food intake and the type of food you're eating. Speak to a dietitian or your GP if you have concerns or need help. Some Health insurance policy covers you for a visit to a dietitian. Check your policy document or with your insurance provider. You can conveniently store and access all your insurance policy and information online on Quashed. Getting in touch with your insurance company is only a couple of clicks without the hassle of finding your policy information or their contact details. Discover benefits of your insurance policy and make the most of it.

This article was written with help from the following resources: Heart Foundation, Ministry of Health, Nutrition Foundation and Figure NZ.

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