Exploring the sense and nonsense of food and health

Body Mass Index and the Elderly

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Body mass index (BMI) values

Body mass index (BMI) values (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Weight management means maintaining a healthy weight in order to reduce your risk of specific health problems. Being either obese or underweight can be unhealthy.

As with any screening tool, the body mass index (BMI) may not be accurate for everyone. The BMI is not a direct measure of your percentage of body fat. It doesn’t assess if your body weight is predominately muscle or fat nor does it take into account where your body fat is concentrated – in other words, whether you’re an apple (central obesity) or pear (weight in hips and thighs). Also athletes can have a high BMI due a high percentage of muscle mass but their muscular weight doesn’t increase their health risks. Individuals who are very short (under 5 feet) may have a high BMI but similarly to athletes may not be unhealthy.

One of the easiest ways to access if your are at a healthy weight is to measure your BMI.  The BMI is a calculation of your weight in relationship to your height. It is calculated using the following formula:
BMI =    weight (pounds) X 703 divided by height (inches) squared
The height is without shoes and the weight is without clothing.

This is an interesting article about the interpretation of the BMI and mortality. Its message has some surprises, especially for the elderly population. Most developed world countries have accepted the chronological age of 65 years as a definition of ‘elderly’ or older person. While this definition is somewhat arbitrary, it is many times associated with the age at which one can begin to receive pension benefits. At the moment, there is no United Nations standard numerical criterion, but the UN agreed cutoff is 60+ years to refer to the older population.




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