How Good is BMI as a Health Indicator?

by Dr Nick

How do You Measure your Healthiness?

A recent conversation with my brother about Body Mass Index or BMI got me thinking about this data point and how we use it. Many of you are probably familiar with the value – it shows up on your weighing scales right after displaying your weight

Obesity BMI
Digital Weighing Scale

And if your scales don’t offer it you can always calculate your BMI with a multitude of online calculators (simply put weight divided height)

But there are some challenges with this simplistic value – not least of all the Obesity Paradox – the counterintuitive notion that obesity may be associated with longer survival.

Muscle Mass

A recent study published in PLOS One: Muscle mass, BMI, and mortality among adults in the United States: A population-based cohort study that delves into this deeper and offers some explanation of this counterintuitive notion that having a high BMI can be associated with longer survival. The results offered a clearer picture into our bodies and the relationship between these measures and our health status and long-term survival. There was lots to digest but this chart captured an essential point

Health
Risk of Mortality BMI and Muscle Mass

The Blue line represents people with “Preserved Muscle Mass” – in other words, those that have more muscle vs less. The Red Line for people who have lower muscle mass. I’m simplifying a complex detailed study a little but essentially but here goes

TL;dr: Healthier longer survival for people who sit in the middle range of BMI and have more muscle mass. For those with high or low BMI muscle mass has a positive impact on improving long-term survival

Listen in to find out the importance of Muscle Mass and what Incremental Steps you should be taking to improve your health

 

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