Body Mass Index

Body Mass Index (BMI) is a tool that is used in healthcare to assess one of the components of your overall health and cardiovascular risk. It is measured using your weight and height and is expressed as a number in kg/m2. BMI alone is not a good measure of your health and “normal” BMI ranges do not apply to all people from all populations.

To assess your metabolic health, BMI should be used in combination with other risk factors such as waist circumference measurements, cholesterol levels, blood sugar levels, family history, blood pressure, smoking status and ethnicity. Only then can the doctor or healthcare provider gain insight into your individual metabolic health and cardiovascular risk.

As mentioned, BMI is less accurate for certain ethnic groups. For example, in people of Asian descent, a healthy BMI is lower than the indicated “normal” range. In people who are Māori or Pasifika, a healthy BMI is higher than the “normal” range.

We still commonly measure and record BMI in many healthcare settings. Thankfully we are moving away from using this as a tool used to assess health in isolation. It is still informative to know a persons BMI, but looking at the whole patient and multiple factors is a much more thorough and accurate measure of metabolic health and cardiovascular risk.