Beyond BMI: The Role of Weight in Health Outcomes
| 4 min read
Shanthi Appelö is a registered dietitian and health and wellness spokesperson for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan based in Detroit. Passionate about the science of nutrition and behavior, Shanthi has experience working in clinical nutrition, public health and teaching in the university setting. In her free time, she enjoys experimenting in the kitchen, exploring the outdoors, working on art and spending time with family.
- Below 18.5 is underweight
- 18.5–24.9 is a healthy range for most adults
- 25–29.9 is an overweight range
- 30 or above is considered obese
Limitations to BMI
- Eating habits
- Physical activity
Health is more than BMI
- Blood pressure: The higher a person’s blood pressure is, the more at risk they are for additional health problems, including heart disease, heart attack and stroke.
- Cholesterol: While some cholesterol is needed for the body to be healthy, too much LDL cholesterol can cause fatty deposits to build up in blood vessels. This makes it difficult for blood to flow through arteries. These deposits can also break off suddenly, forming a clot that could contribute to a heart attack or a stroke.
- Family history and genes: How a person stores fat on their body – and how much fat they store on their body – may be strongly connected to their genes. They also may determine appetite.
- Lifestyle habits: Getting enough physical activity, eating a balanced, nutritious diet and taking care of mental health are all significant health factors.
- Mobility: The ability of a person to move freely and easily is a key consideration for healthy aging. It covers many aspects of daily life – getting out of bed, walking around the house, sitting in a chair, walking for exercise and completing daily chores; as well as the ability to work, play, drive a car or use another form of transportation. Reduced mobility is connected to negative health outcomes.
- Sleep habits: Getting seven to eight hours of sleep each night is recommended for adults. Not enough sleep is connected to poorer diet choices and may make health conditions worse.
- Social determinants of health: More than 80% of what goes into how healthy people are, isn’t driven by the medical care they receive but by social determinants of health, which include where you live, access to healthy food, housing instability, income, education, food insecurity, access to health care, health literacy, crime and violence and environmental conditions of your home and neighborhood.
Small changes can affect health
- Better sleep
- Improved mood
- Less strain on joints
- Lower cholesterol
- Lower blood pressure
- Decreased body fat
- Improved insulin sensitivity, lowering risk for Type 2 diabetes