Most health care providers will tell you that being overweight is unhealthy. A long list of ailments awaits those who are overweight or obese. These include: high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes just to name a few. Have you ever stopped to think however, that the definition of overweight means different things to different people?
For instance, a 5 foot 4 inch tall woman can be considered overweight at 160 pounds while a 6 foot 2 inch man is on the thin side at 160 pounds. How do you know what's the ideal weight for you? One way is to put everything on the same scale by adjusting for height. This can be done using the Body Mass Index (BMI) calculation.
To assess patients that are overweight or obese, health care providers use the BMI. It does a good job of describing relative weight for any given height and measures your overall total body fat content. It does not however, differentiate between people with too much fat and athletic, muscular body type people. Therefore, you should really use BMI in conjunction with other body composition assessments.
The BMI is a more accurate measure of body fat than a height-weight table, but it does have some drawbacks. It actually overestimates body fat in people who are very muscular, such as body builders, or those who have lost a lot of muscle mass, as in the case if the elderly or ill. High BMIs in pregnant or breastfeeding women, or people under 5 feet may also not reflect 'fatness'.