Know your BMI

Welcome to 2015 – it’s a new year, and a fresh start for your body and your health! Stepping on the scale after the holiday season isn’t enough of an indicator of where to begin making a change – instead, what you should be doing is calculating your Body Mass Index (BMI). Even as a dermatologist, I record my patient’s weight and height at each visit – it’s so important, that the government has actually mandated that all electronic medical records calculate BMI.

What the numbers mean

When you go to your next doctor’s appointment ask for your BMI. Here’s how to decipher what the figures will say:

  • Healthy: 18.5-24.9
  • Overweight: 25-29.9
  • Obese: 30+

When it comes to obesity, however, your BMI alone won’t suffice in order to determine your risk of heart disease – you have to take your waist circumference into account as well. A person with a BMI considered overweight(25-30) and an elevated waist circumference has a higher risk of heart disease compared to someone with a similar BMI, but normal waist circumference.

How to measure your waist circumference

Wrap a measuring tape around your body at the level of the hip bone. A recommended guideline for the North American population is anything greater than 88cm (>35in) for women and greater than 102cm (>40) for men is considered excessive. Please note that these figures are not set in stone, as the threshold of what is considered excessive definitely depends on your racial and ethnic background.

Health concerns

Despite the fact that over half of people considered overweight by BMI and waist circumference and over 30% considered obese, they actually do not possess risk factors for heart disease. So how do you figure out where you stand?

The answer is simple – know your BMI and waist circumference and if one or both are elevated above normal, see your physician and ask him/her to evaluate the following paramaters:

  • Blood pressure
  • Triglyceride level
  • Glucose level
  • High-density lipoprotein cholesterol level
  • Insulin resistance
  • C-reactive protein.

If any of the above values are abnormal, please discuss lifestyle changes with your physician. I know that changing lifestyle behaviours can be both scary and uncomfortable, but it can save your life.

Likewise wishes you a safe, healthy and happy new year going forward into 2014!

Check back on Thursday to see my own weight graph and read our tips on how to go forward with making lifestyle changes this year!

Source: JAMA

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