BMI does not differentiate between body fat and muscle mass. This means there are some exceptions to the BMI guidelines, including:
Muscles - body builders and people who have a lot of muscle bulk will have a high BMI, but are not overweight.
Physical disabilities - people who have a physical disability and are unable to walk may have muscle wasting. Their BMI may
be slightly lower, but this does not necessarily mean they are underweight. In these instances, it is important to consult a medical consultant who will provide helpful advice.
Height - BMI is not totally independent of height and it tends to overestimate obesity among shorter people and underestimate it among taller people. Therefore, BMI should not be used as a guide for adults who are very short (less than 150 cm) or very tall (more than 190 cm).
People of different ethnic groups - Asians, for example, have more body fat at any given BMI compared to people of European descent. Therefore, the cut-offs for overweight and obesity may need to be lower for these populations. This is because an increased risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease begins at a BMI as low as 23 in Asian populations. Some populations have equivalent risks at a higher BMI, such as people of Torres Strait Islander and Maori origin.
What are the International BMI variations?
Above mentioned BMI scores recommended distinctions may vary from time to time and country to country, making global, longitudinal surveys problematic.
• BMI definitions vary across countries
• Classifying a person's body weight status according to BMI may vary depending on the country that the patient resides.
In Japan, for example, a health body weight is defined as a BMI of between 18.5 and 22.9, overweight from 23 to 24.9, and anything over 25 is obese.
Up to 1998, US health authorities considered a healthy body weight as up to a BMI of 27. In 1998, the NIH (National Institutes of Health), USA, adopted the World Health Organizations guidelines.
Before 1998, a person with a BMI of 26.8 would have been classified as a "healthy weight" person in the USA and "obese" in Japan.
• So consult your medical doctor before taking any medication.
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Although BMI can be used for most men and women, it does have some limits :-
BMI is not a perfect measure, because it does not directly assess body fat. Muscle and bone are denser than fat, so an athlete or muscular person may have a high BMI, yet not have too much fat. But most people are not athletes and for most people BMI is a very good gauge of their level of body fat.
- It may overestimate body fat in athletes and others who have a muscular build.
- It may underestimate body fat in older persons and others who have lost muscle.
Example 2 -
A 6 feet 2 inch athlete may have a higher BMI than a couch potato of the same height - but the couch potato may be overweight while the athlete is definitely not.
It's time to think about BMI..
On a Mission to make a Healthier World
Some exceptions to the BMI calculator
Research has shown that BMI is strongly correlated with the gold-standard methods for measuring body fat. And it is an easy way to screen who might be at greater risk of health problems due to their weight.
The material on this web site is provided for educational purposes only, and is not to be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.